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Practice Empathy

During April 2020 we will focus on the theme of practicing empathy. 

As a leader your first consideration in a crisis is the people around you. Acknowledge and empathise with their professional and personal circumstances to build safety and trust. Demonstrate that you are fully present, available and approachable to your team.
‘Empathy—the ability to recognize and share other people’s feelings—is the most important instrument in a leader’s toolbox. The daily practice of putting the well-being of others first has a compounding and reciprocal effect in relationships, in friendships, in the way we treat our clients and our colleagues’ (Simon Sinek, 2017).

Empathy is being concerned about the person, not just their output.  

Empathy creates connection.

The quality of the relationships in teams is based on the quality of connection.

When you ask someone how they’re doing, do you actually care?

In these times, it is more important than ever that we stand in each other’s shoes – ‘seek first to understand’; and demonstrate that we have each other’s back.

Practice practical empathy:

  • This is a time to ask questions and avoid assumptions. Many are feeling overwhelmed.  Ask people what they need and agree practical boundaries.  This can be on an individual basis.  Be clear on what is acceptable and what is not.
  • Understand the context in which the members of your team are operating and work with them to agree appropriate work arrangements and reasonable deliverables.  Be flexible. 
  • Set people up for success. Be realistic in your expectations for yourself and the team.
  • Recognise that we are all learning a new way of working and that most of us have some challenge adapting. Some of us may have competence or confidence gaps.  These need to be understood and supports put in place to address them.
  • Demonstrate respect for individual circumstances, e.g. it may not always be possible or appropriate to take a call.  Send a message in advance, asking when a suitable time would be to take a call. 
  • Many of us are reporting that hours of screen time are more tiring than face to face meetings as we adapt.  Ensure you lead by following the guidelines for virtual meetings to support your team’s wellbeing. 
  • Make it safe to share by being open to sharing your challenges
  • Check in with your team members individually and as a team regularly
  • Be kind to yourself and others


Brene Brown Ted Talk on Vulnerability

Elizabeth Gilbert vcf:
Pema Chodran; Just like me exercise:

Day 3: Simon Sinek on Empathy:

Dr Marc Barckett & Brene Brown Permission to Feel:

Susan David The Power of Emotional Connection:

We yearn to be respected -
for the work we do
for the value we provide -
for we are human.

Your status or your title doesn't give you the right to demand respect.
Try to force respect and you get contempt.

Respect is given - not taken.
Improve your leadership - respect others, equally.

How far would you follow somebody who didn't respect you?

We want to be taken seriously.
We want to feel relevant.
We want to be noticed.
We want to be valued.
That includes you too.