“Great leaders inspire and motivate through empathy, not ego, agenda, and emotion.” Peter Margaritis
It can be hard to teach leaders to flip the script when it comes to being more empathetic and even vulnerable if those leaders are wearing thick protective armor over their humanity in the workplace. Two-face, empathy-devoid leaders take pride in their distance. But unfortunately, their aloof and impersonal workplace behavior starts degrading relationships, and then projects begin to fail.
Self-absorption creates a toxic work environment. Empathetic leadership creates an empowered workplace, and one person’s behaviors and attitudes can impact many. A very effective way to increase empathy is by replacing assumptions with a sense of curiosity that opens us up to empathy. You achieve this through conversation and questioning to reveal what lies beneath the surface of the other person’s issue or perspective. Curiosity is a good thing. It helps us ask questions and gather more facts and information, which eliminates unfounded assumptions. The more questions we ask, the closer we get to the root of any issue, and once discovered, we can help devise a plan to help solve the problem at hand.
The word improv looks a lot like the word improve. It’s a powerful reminder that when we master improv, we improve relationships, teams, organizations, products, and careers. Improvisation is all about empathy for business leaders and provides an excellent foundation to empathize with others. First, as a leader, you must be a great listener and fully present during every conversation. When ego, agenda, and emotion are infused too strongly in a conversation, the conversation halts and negativity is nearly always an immediate result.
Great leaders inspire and motivate through empathy, not ego, agenda, and emotion. Developing the kind of empathy to improve your leadership in this way can start with an improviser mindset. People still find it difficult to understand that a leader’s emotional intelligence, of which empathy is a crucial component, is more critical to the organization than the leader’s technical knowledge. The truth is that technical skills are more accessible to learn than soft skills. To get promoted in today’s business world, you must master your interpersonal skills, which are hard to master. Mastering the soft skills is easier, thankfully, with an improviser mindset. The better you treat and understand the people you serve, the more empowered and loyal the stakeholders become.