When you show deep empathy toward others, their defensive energy goes down, and positive energy replaces it. That’s when you can get more creative in solving problems.
– Stephen Covey
This year I am focusing on everyday leaders. Not those who hold a formal position of authority, but those of us who, through our behaviors, have the ability to influence and inspire those around us just by being us. This is the second installment of articles that focus on one specific behavior that can make a huge difference in our ability to impact the lives of others.
This month I want to talk about empathy. What does empathy have to do with being an everyday leader? It is the empathy of everyday leaders that disarms the defensive and negative attitudes of those around them. It shows the support and understanding that lifts spirits and gives strength when the going gets tough. So, what does empathy look like in everyday leadership?
Seeing through the eyes of others:
It’s easy to see things only from your point of view. When you take the time to see situations and circumstances through the eyes of others, you are better able to understand where they are coming from; why they have the opinions they have, and what factors may be impacting their attitudes and actions. Seeing things from our own perspective leads to biased opinions, actions, and decisions. So many conflicts and misunderstandings stem from an inability to see things from different perspectives. When we develop and exercise this skill, we gain the trust and respect of those we work with. They know that we are able to be unbiased in our evaluation of them and their situation.
Stepping in their shoes:
Just like seeing through the eyes of others, stepping in their shoes gives us a better understanding of who they are. It is easy to judge and make assumptions from the outside looking in; standing in someone else’s shoes can put things in perspective. We never know what someone is going through until we take the time to really find out. When we put forth the time and effort to gain insight into someone else’s inner world, it shows we care. And, everyone needs to know that they are worth caring about.
Setting an example of courage and support:
We all have moments when we feel weak and alone. Everyday leaders truly empathize with others; they show the courage to stand by and support those who need it the most. Their example sets the tone for others to follow. Imagine how every member of a team can thrive when there is an environment of support and understanding.
Empathy allows us to help set others up for success. Everyone struggles, faces obstacles, and feels excluded on occasion. Everyday leaders create an environment of inclusion and support where every member of the team can succeed.
Through their empathy, everyday leaders make an impact on the lives of those around them.
How can you start showing empathy today?