Those of you who know us know that we believe that leaders exist at all levels of an organization and in all walks of life. We believe that leadership is a way of being in the world. It requires a willingness to influence the world (not stand on the sidelines and complain) and to be influenced by the world (not stand impervious to the events and lives playing out around you.)
We are passionate about finding the key nuggets of leadership success that are embedded in the thousands of pages of leadership literature. While we appreciate this bountiful body of literature, when we lead, and when our clients need to lead, we want to teach the simple, effective steps that help people succeed.
Our Leader in You trainings and our Leadership Labs are where we teach what we have learned in our well over 20 years of coaching and consulting. Recently, as we were working with a class of executives on our Lenses of Leadership (quick questions to help leaders understand themselves and understand the people they are leading) one of the leaders got very excited and said that we must watch the Cleveland Clinic Empathy Video because it was trying to do the same thing that we were doing: helping leaders to have empathy for the experience of others.
As you watch the video, you will understand how the questions we developed actually operationalize empathy. It almost seems ridiculous to use operationalize and empathy in the same sentence but it was clear, over and over again, that people doing their best to lead often got stuck in how to understand what was going on for the people they were leading. Many leaders had no idea how to quickly assess what others are experiencing.
We identified 3 powerful questions that leaders could ask (themselves) to begin to create empathy for what the people they were trying to lead were experiencing.
To create empathy ask yourself:
- What do you imagine they are afraid of in this situation?
- What pressures could they be facing (both internally and externally)?
- What might be happening to their spirit?
This week, we’d encourage you to practice asking these questions before you speak or take action. Just beginning to pay attention to the fact that others have more going on than you can imagine and taking a few minutes to explore what some of that might be will profoundly impact your leadership.