Empathy Why is it important for leaders to demonstrate this?

April Sabral

/ Leadership

I have been reading more and more about Emotional Intelligence lately and am absolutely convinced that most leaders do not actually understand this critical EQ competency.

When was the last time you saw this pop up on a performance review?

Empathy is the ability to understand others, and put yourself in their shoes. Why is this so important? To connect with others it takes a focus on the outside not the inside meaning not reverting every idea situation or conversation through your own lens but to actually put your self in the shoes of others while experiencing situations.

Have you ever heard of the term “Treat people how you want to be treated?” YES, I figured out along time ago that this is only half the truth actually if you want to show real empathy this phrase should be changed to “Treat others how they want to be treated”.

For those of you that are naturals at showing empathy to others good for you.

For those of you that need some work in this area..

These are good tips to make a start.

  1. Put aside your viewpoint, and try to see things from the other person’s point of view.
  2. Validate the other person’s perspective. …
  3. Examine your attitude. …
  4. Listen. …
  5. Ask what the other person would do.

Focusing on others is a real challenge but when you make an effort to be intentional towards others it will make a big impact on the way that others feel about working on your team. Employees that feel heard, cared for and understood actually perform higher than employees that dont even if they are paid less. Robin Sharma talks about this in his book “The Leader with No Title” which is one of my favorite books because it talks about being your best every day but also how to treat others.

Understanding others is simply recognizing people for what they are; not what you think they are , nor what you want them to be.

When talking with others pick the most interesting topic to talk about with them. How do you know what that topic is? It’s THEMSELVES…this is true of all of us.

A mentor of mine gave me this challenge a long time ago. In the book Skills with People (another good read) on page 18 Les tells you to take the following four words out of your language and replace them with one.

The four words are I, Me, My, and Mine. The word to replace it with is YOU. Les says if you can give up the satisfaction you can get from talking about yourself your influence and power will be greatly increased. I learned this lesson about eight years ago and it really did make a difference in the way that I lead and how others feel working with me. But it is a very hard one to maintain.

At the end of the day leaders that can communicate from the outside and focus on others not themselves are very influential. And remember it is not how you like your remarks and subject; It is how your listeners like them.

How do you know what your listeners think of what you shared, ask them? Leaders that get this show strength and lead their team well.

Written by April Sabral an expert in retail leadership and operations.

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