3 Minutes to Increase Your Empathy

Motivational Monday #2

Real leadership requires empathy.  Your best efforts and ideas will fail if people don’t see real evidence that you care about them.  Witness how hollow a presidential visit to flood ravages Texas during Hurricane Harvey.  No meetings with survivors, no hugs, no tears.  Even if relief efforts go reasonably well, there is no trust where there is no empathy.

OK, I admit it is easy to pick on political leaders for blatant emotional ineptness.  Empathy does not always come easy for any of us, especially for recovering “fixers” like me.  I like to solve problems, but that is not always what people need from me first.  Yesterday someone came to my office to share about conflict on a team she leads.  My minds immediately went to solutions, but I have slowly learned to listen first.  What she really needed was to tell the story, and know that I, the leader, cared about how she was personally being affected by this.  In part, she just wanted to know she was not crazy or inept because of her feelings about what had happened.  Once I had mirrored her feelings, she new the answers, and my fixing was not necessary.

How can you stay focused on being empathetic, when you have your own challenges and want to get on with your day?  Take 3 minutes and watch this great Youtube video from Brene Brown on the difference between empathy and sympathy.  Remember, the best leaders aren’t just strong, they care about people.


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