By Trinnie Houghton, Executive and Organizational Coach of Sojourn Partners
Trinnie will be presenting at our Spring Conference on May 2 in Concord.
Sign up for her session "Lessons form Concious Leadership: Developing your Zone of Genius"
For those readers that might find themselves in an eye roll of “I am so tired of always checking in about people’s feelings. Is there a place for the hard-charging, here’s-what-we’re-going-to-do-and-there’s-no-crying-in-baseball-type of command and control leader?”
Absolutely. In fact, we find that those truly successful command and control leaders have learned how to bring out the best in their team through empathy – caring about what their employees care about -- their family, their career, their team’s success, for example. The real question is how to use your empathy skills to create the ground work for the real tough conversations that need to happen.
Empathy is one of the most overlooked leadership skills – often relegated to being lumped in with “those emotions,” “the soft stuff” and “taking too much time.” Research has shown, however, that empathy – or really feeling what someone else is feeling – is critical to employee engagement, retention, and attracting great talent. In other words, the organization thrives when people care.
How to do bring in more empathy skills? Here are some things that we use in our everyday practice to show we care:
1. Check your intent.See how you’re approaching the conversation.If you think they’ve got it all wrong, then “you’re wrong” is what gets communicated.See instead if you are open to taking another perspective.
2. See if you can first validate their perspective -- without rattling off what’s really wrong with it.Communicate that you hear how they’re feeling about things. Reflect what’s not being said.
3. See if you can find something you have in common: “We both have kids.We both love football.” You’re communicating that you’re on their side.
4. Ask open-ended questions and use “we” as much as possible: “How are you thinking it through?” “What are we missing?”
Bottom line: Having tough conversations is not easy. They do take time. They can be uncomfortable. But if it leads to alignment and connection and efficiency around where you’re headed, then aren’t these the conversations that you’re most willing to have? Empathy is your doorway in.
Connect with Trinnie at our Spring Conference on May 2 in Concord or reach out to her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org!!