Empathic Leadership Is Not Doormat Leadership

Doormat

Does this describe your leadership?

  • Inherently, you’re always able to tell how others are feeling on any given day.
  • You don’t need to “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes” because you naturally imagine yourself in others’ lives or situations.
  • You are often referred to as intuitive and conscientious. In fact, you’re ability to understand where someone is coming from, sense their concerns, and give voice to their emotional concerns can make it feel as though you’re reading their mind.
  • You always weigh the feelings and perspectives of others before taking action, which people tend to notice. Even if someone on your team hasn’t voiced a question or concern, you are aware it is lingering in their mind.
  • Though everyone is capable of being empathetic, you have a natural talent for knowing the right things to say in the moment, and understand where people are sitting even without any personal connection.

That is because you are talented in the strength of Empathy.

Soft Does Not Empathy Make

Make no mistake, just because someone has the strength of Empathy does not mean they are weak, a push-over, emotional, or any other barrier label you can think of. If unsophisticated, it is very likely they could show up that way; however, a sophisticated Empathic leader will leverage their strength to build relationships and trust that allows their team to feel heard and important.

People want to follow a leader who recognizes they are people and is able to take their perspective into account. NOTE: that does not mean a leader with Empathy cares or will act on that information. This strength simply allows them to be aware and see the human element innately.

Leading With Empathy

If you are a leader with Empathy, it’s important for you to recognize where your boundaries are. While people’s personal lives and opinions are important, you cannot submit to, or accommodate all of their woes.

Being a good leader means taking into account what is relevant and important to their engagement at work, otherwise, you’ll be easily taken advantage of.

Remember, everyone has bad days and everyone has parts of their job they dislike; your people do not need to be over the moon 100% of the time! Utilize one or two of your other strengths (Analytical, Deliberative, Focus, etc.) to determine when to bend and when to acknowledge, draw the line, and move on.

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“So what’s MOST important to your Team?”

Signature ShowcaseFind out & Learn to Lead with Empathy with
Recalibrate Values Sorting Exercise!

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Building Effective Relationships

You are able to build relationships with emotional depth which will make you approachable and safe. That will help you when you have to deliver the tough messages – you’ll be able to deliver the information in a way that your people feel accounted for. If they feel they are invested in and you actually understand their situation, they will be more likely to invest the time and attention required to improve their performance.

You’ll also have the advantage of insight into those others might find “difficult” to work with.

All people seek to be understood, whether they are consciously seeking understanding or not. Your ability to connect in a real way will help people who have built up walls trust you and begin to open up.

While some people will never be “open books” or want to discuss every issue they have, you will still be able to establish a trust that will allow them to let you support them when they actually need it.

Overly Emotional vs. Emotional Awareness

Attributes related to emotion often get a bad rap in the business world because being emotional is seen as a weakness. While most people would agree constantly getting upset or frazzled by every little thing would impede performance, being aware of your emotions and those of others is actually an asset.

Depending on the other strengths are wrapped around an individual’s Empathy, it could be used in a very strategic way; if they are aware how their boss is feeling, or what makes them happy, or what time of the day they are most approachable, those with Empathy would know when to make requests on behalf of their team or themselves.

There is also a possibility, depending on their intentions and other strengths, that they could manipulate others to achieve their own ends. So, don’t discount someone with Empathy – that may end up being a big tactical error on your part!

If you’re a leader that has the talent theme of Empathy, how do you leverage it to lead? Have you ever been called emotional? How did you respond? Do you lead someone with Empathy? How do they display it? Are they unsophisticated? How would you coach them to become more sophisticated inside this strength?

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Alexsys "Lexy" Thompson HCS, SWP

Alexsys “Lexy” Thompson is Managing Partner at Fokal Fusion
She helps building Strong Leaders through Strong People Strategy
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