As executive leaders, our role is to influence change and make a positive impact in the world. We must have responsive, effective, collective human connections to influence change.
People will lean in and be vulnerable with you if they trust you and feel connected to you. We must be intentional about our reactions in times of crisis and RESPOND with empathy. Empathy is an attempt to understand a different perspective. Empathy is feeling with another person and is essential for us in order to lead without fear, inspire trust and be clear, kind and direct.
So, if you are and executive leader, looking for empathetic ways to respond to your teams, Please stick around. YOU are NOT alone!
And if you find this video useful, please share it with everyone you work with, Because the more we are all leading from our most authentic, empathic selves, the more vulnerable and creative and engaged our teams will be.
To help you respond with empathy, here are 3 things you can do RIGHT NOW.
First: MAKE IT SAFE Your teams need to feel safe, valued and supported. In crisis, teams fear judgment, or they don’t feel good enough. They might fear retaliation, or maybe they fear not been seen or getting emotionally and/or physically hurt on duty. Teams will feel safe if you create emotional and physical safety with an intentional sturdy presence of curiosity and non- judgement. I call that HOLDING space. As an executive leader, If you aren’t sure if your teams feel safe, ASK Them; Here’s a couple questions you can ask your team….How do you know it’s safe to share ideas and concerns? Who do you feel connected to? What are you afraid of? What keeps you up at night? What would make you feel more safe and what suggestions do you have?
Holding space and acknowledging their safety lets your team know you are paying attention and want to support them.
Second: BE ATTUNED– Empathy is sensing the emotions of others. You can do this by noticing subtle shifts in behavior and energy. What is being said and what is not being said? Who is being unusually quiet and who is being unusually active? Watch body language, and be curious about subtle eye contact between people or lack of eye contact with you. Is anyone withdrawn or even frenetic?
Pay attention to the energy of your team. Notice it and ask about it. A simple question like “what’s happening with our energy right now?” can open real discussion about what people are experiencing and let them know you really want to understand and be responsive. Be attuned to emotional cues and follow their lead in what they need in crisis. That brings me to the 3rd thing you can do right now to respond to your teams and connect with empathy.
Third: LISTEN & FOLLOW. In the event you are leading in crisis and action and response is needed, connect first by listening and take action only if it’s asked for. In personal interactions a verbal response is not usually what is needed. Connection is. And connection happens when people feel listened to and they feel heard. Listen without judgement without labeling. Listen completely and without reacting personally. For example if your teams are angry, know that anger is a response to pain, fear and lack of control. Listen intently for what is important and what is really going on. If you don’t listen first, you are at risk of acting on the wrong thing and potentially creating more chaos. Or you risk taking it personally and then you react rather than responding with empathy.
Slow down. Listen completely. Listen empathetically. Then follow through on what you heard and take action. Do what you say you will do. And quickly. This is one of the fastest ways to build trust and demonstrate that you are connected to them in an authentic way.
Meet your teams where they are. Acknowledge emotions. And then follow up.
Remember, three things you can do as an executive leader, to respond with empathy, is to First make it SAFE, Second, Be ATTUNED and third, listen hard and follow up.
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