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Senior Leadership - Develop Empathy Superpowers

Leaders have more to do than ensure productivity. They must show empathy towards employees to be truly effective in the role. Empathy is an emotional and thinking muscle that becomes stronger the more we use it. Show more empathy and start a trickle-down effect of positivity and efficiency in your organization.

Goal


Use empathy to build trust in your leadership abilities.

What is Develop Empathy Superpowers?
Empathy is one of the aspects of emotional intelligence (EI) and EI is all about the ability to recognize, understand and manage your own emotions.

Managing, developing and coaching employees is only possible if a leader is "tuned-in". That refers to listening and tuning into non-verbal communication. The ability to truly listen from an intuitive place, to tune into the emotions of the other person is the area that is linked to empathy.

Empathy allows leaders to predict the impact their decisions will have on their employees. It helps them to strategize, build engaged teams, nurture future generations of leaders and inspire their employees.

How does Developing Empathy Superpowers improve employee engagement and culture?
The first step in engaging employees is building trust. Empathy is the oil that keeps relationships running smoothly and is one of the cornerstones of building trust. To feel engaged, employees must trust the organization and the individual leader. This can be achieved through, by making them feel listened to, heard and understood.

The traditional "command and control" leadership style has been recognized as less effective so it’s being replaced by a collaborative leadership style based on mutual understanding. It's critical for employees, especially the younger ones, to feel heard and that they are able to trust the person they work for.

It’s empathy that creates this desired dynamic as it helps managers and leaders to interact with employees on a more personal level, with less task-focused and more humanistic approach.

What are the benefits?
Being able to manage conflict
Resolving challenges in the workplace
Identifying the needs of employees
Being able to actively listen
Improve communication
Ideas will flow more freely increasing creativity
Productivity

How do you conduct Empathy Superpowers in the workplace?
Talk about empathy. Let everyone know that empathy matters. Explain that giving time and attention to others fosters empathy, which in turn enhances your performance.
Teach listening skills. To understand others and sense what they’re feeling, leaders must be good listeners. Skilled listeners let others know that they’re being heard, and they express understanding.
Encourage genuine perspective taking. Leaders should consistently put themselves in the other person’s place, including taking into account the personal experience or perspective of their employees.
Cultivate compassion. Support employees who care about how someone else feels or considers the effect that business decisions have on employees or customers.

Action


Strengthen Your Empathy Muscle

Listen – truly listen to people. Listen with your ears, eyes and heart. Pay attention to others' body language, their tone of voice, to the hidden emotions behind what they are saying to you, and to the context.

Don't interrupt people. Don't dismiss their concerns offhand. Don't rush to give advice. Don't change the subject. Allow people their moment.

Tune in to non-verbal communication. This is the way that people often communicate what they think or feel, even when their verbal communication says something quite different.

Use people's name. Also, remember the names of people's spouse and children so that you can refer to them by name.

Be fully present when you are with people. Don't check your email, look at your watch or take phone calls when a direct report drops into your office to talk to you. Put yourself in their shoes. How would you feel if your boss did that to you?

Smile at people.

Encourage people, particularly the quiet ones, when they speak up in meetings. A simple thing like an attentive nod can boost people's confidence.

Give genuine recognition and praise. Pay attention to what people are doing and catch them doing the right things. When you give praise, spend a little effort to make your genuine words memorable: "You are an asset to this team because..."; "This was pure genius"; "I would have missed this if you hadn't picked it up."

Take a personal interest in people. Show people that you care, and genuine curiosity about their lives. Ask them questions about their hobbies, their challenges, their families, their aspirations.

Reference Material
The Role of Empathy in Improving Employee Engagement
The Importance of Empathy in the Workplace

Updated on: 08/18/2023

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