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Leadership Skills: Empathy for Your Team

February 16, 2017

emotionatwork

Show Empathy for Your Team

Empathy—the ability to read and understand other’s emotions, needs, and thoughts—is one of the core competencies of emotional intelligence and a critical leadership skill. It is what allows us to influence, inspire, and help people achieve their dreams and goals. Empathy enables us to connect with others in a real and meaningful way, which in turn makes us happier—and more effective—at work.

But it’s not that simple, is it?

There’s no doubt that people want to feel appreciated and listened to at work. As a leader, it’s your job to create an empathetic environment where everyone feels valued. Here are a few simple things you can do to show empathy for your team:

  • Observe, listen, and ask questions. Stop assuming and “telling” that you know what people are thinking and feeling — you probably don’t. There’s always more to learn if you’re quiet and curious which is counter to the behavioral traits rewarded in other aspects of leadership.
  • Stop multitasking. If you’re writing an email to one person while talking with another, neither one is getting the best of you –  and whether you are aware or not, it is extremely rude and disrespectful. Put your phone down and give your full attention to the person in front of you.
  • Don’t give in to distractions. There’s always a deadline looming, a crisis to deal with, or an annoyance to put to rest. It’s important to slow down and take a step back from all of this stress. Practice mindfulness, and encourage your employees to do the same. Let them know it’s OK to take some time for themselves.

Adapted from “If You Can’t Empathize with Your Employees, You’d Better Learn To,” by Annie McKee

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