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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Giving Your Employees Freedom To Encourage Creativity

Creativity at Work

If your employees are like most of the respondents to an international survey conducted by Gallup, twice as many of them are unhappy than happy in their jobs. Not only does workplace satisfaction have a direct impact on expenses for recruiting, hiring and retention, unhappy employees can derail productivity, workplace culture and customer experience.

One way to thwart the likelihood that your employees loathe each day on the job? Give them the freedom to be creative in their roles.

Giving Employees Flexibility to Be Creative

Here are a few reasons why giving employees the flexibility to be creative can transform your workplace — and how to do it.

Set the stage.

Sitting at a desk doesn’t necessarily induce a feeling that “the sky’s the limit,” but you can give employees a mental refuge by taking a cue from Google, which has common areas sprinkled throughout its campus to provide employees with a place to change gears and their perspectives.

Whether they use the rooms to think, relax, brainstorm or chat, they’re physically free of the constraining environments of closed meetings rooms and conference tables. As a result, they can change their mood — and their thinking. Any business can provide a space that inspires creativity with something as basic as a room with futons, fluffy cushions, a comfy rug, interesting paint colors, games and gadgets.

Establish a time for mental recess.

Though your employees are presumably more equipped to practice mental discipline than children, who are given recess in order to burn off energy and refocus, adults also need an opportunity to think outside of their pressing “to-do” lists to start thinking about new ways of problem-solving in their jobs.

As science writer Jonah Lehrer explained in a 2012 NPR story on the science behind workplace creativity, the idea of a daily workplace recess has proven successful for 3M, which gives its engineers time out of each day to spend however they wish, as long as they later share with colleagues what they worked on for that hour. Not only does the break give employees a chance to refresh their mental batteries, it communicates a sense of trust between company and employee. As a result, they’re more likely to want to work with an employer as a partner, versus feeling like a “worker bee.”

Give employees at every level the opportunity to create.

Employees in “creative” fields like design, engineering and marketing usually have the opportunity to share their creative input, but as Lehrer also told NPR, those who aren’t in a creative role often have the most important input to share, given their exposure to the “front lines” of the business.

By establishing a norm that everyone in the organization is invited to share ideas free of judgment, you can increase the collective sense of accountability as well as the degree to which employees at all levels feel respected and appreciated by the organization.

Honor results more than face time.

It’s easy to spot the employees who have a “clock in, clock out” mentality, but if your organization places high importance on arriving and leaving the office at defined start and end times, these employees are behaving in the exact way your organization has implicitly stated, or indirectly implied, is required.

To inspire a culture of creativity, focus your organizational emphasis on results, not basic task completion.

Though you don’t have to go for a total “results-only work environment” (which allows employees to come and go whenever they want, as long as they’re producing results), the ideology is an important shift in growing a culture of employees who feel empowered, important and fulfilled in their work.

In addition to ensuring that managers behave in a way that reinforces the idea that true engagement is more important than simply being present, performance reviews should reflect a similar ideology.

Freedom to Create

Giving employees the freedom to create may represent a shift in your current operations, but given the payoff that it can provide in reduced human resources overhead and a competitive advantage in innovation and customer service, it’s likely a risk worth taking.

So how are you doing as a leader to give your employees the freedom and flexibility to be creative? What are some steps you can take now to insure a better bottom-line by have more people doing the things they love? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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——————–
Kristen Gramigna

Kristen Gramigna is Chief Marketing Officer for BluePay
She serves in the Bankcard Industry in Direct Sales, Sales Management and Marketing
Email | LinkedIn | Web |

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Leadership Lessons From the NFL’s Domestic Violence Controversy

Self Talk

With the horrific behaviors of some NFL players in the news (Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and many more) there is a renewed focus on the topic of abuse.

It is completely appropriate that these conversations are taking place because no advancement in human history has occurred until people started talking about. I’m not going to get into the specifics of each of these cases. But it’s important to talk a little bit about the leadership implications of abuse: in all of its forms.

Obvious Forms of Abuse and Leadership Responsibilities

  • Physical: Zero tolerance! End of story. If you are a leader in any organization and you see evidence of physical abuse among employees or their families, you are obligated to act, and act swiftly. Period.
  • Verbal and Emotional: There is a widely accepted term to describe this: Bullying. Bullying is not a topic that is relegated to middle school or high school locker rooms. It happens daily in the workplace. Just this month I was working with leaders in organizations talking about behaviors, actions, and words that amount to workplace bullying. The biggest challenge that leaders have in addressing workplace bullying is to stop making excuses. Yes, the bully may be really good at financial modeling, marketing, customer service, or some other function. But they leave a path of destruction across the entire organization. No matter how you cut it, that behavior negatively impacts the bottom line.

The Loudest Silent Killer

There’s another kind of abuse that takes place which often goes unnoticed. And there’s a good chance that you have engaged in this kind abuse recently. This is verbal abuse against yourself; even if it only happens in your head.

Imagine the scenario. You work all day putting together a presentation. It takes all day because you’re constantly being interrupted. With every other sentence you hear a voice over your shoulder pointing out every imperfection. The voice says things like:

  • “That’s such a stupid idea.”
  • “They are never going to accept that.”
  • Or, “Face it, you just aren’t good enough. You may as well start updating your resume.”

Harsh words. And there’s very little anyone else could do about it because that voice is yours.

Words Matter

Words matter. Leaders must appreciate the fact that the words they use will influence the words that their team uses. And the words that are used by anyone will influence behaviors and actions. Inclusive words can form a bond and bring people together. These are words like: we, team, together, support, empower.

At the same time, divisive words can separate, segregate, and build barriers between individuals and teams.

This also applies to words you use on yourself.

Be honest with yourself. You are probably your own worst and most frequent abuser.

Stop The Madness

Here are some steps to take to stop abusing yourself

  1. Would you say it to a friend? The next time you criticize yourself, write down what you say to yourself. Then take those exact words and go tell them to your coworker or your best friend. How would that advance your relationship? If it wouldn’t, then stop saying it to yourself.
  2. End the story. You are probably beating yourself up, because there’s a story about something that happened. History is what has happened in the past. There’s nothing you can do about it other than recognize it, acknowledge it, and learn from it. The story is the importance you put on it. You lived it, but you don’t have to re-live it. Though it happened yesterday, you don’t have to give that story a home today.
  3. Find your leadership presence. Leadership presence comes from the inside. People see it. If you don’t believe in yourself, then there is a good chance that others won’t either. If you think those words and that story is just something that’s rattling around inside your own head, you’re mistaken. It’s a lot more visible than you think. Start by taking a breath, and believe in yourself. Because if you do, there’s a good chance others will too.

 What actions will you commit to take to stop the cycle of abuse?

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——————–
David Hasenbalg

David Hasenbalg is President of Customized Solutions, LLC
He helps organizations develop collaborative cultures to make a mark in their industry
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On Leadership and Assessing Leadership Potential in Yourself and Others

Lee Ellis

Carla, a Senior Vice-President of a Fortune 200 company, has the challenge of evaluating the natural leadership potential of several team members. She had worked with all of them for some time, but she’s unsure about the best criteria to match the needed skills for the job with the potential candidates.

Not only does she want the person in the right role, but she needs someone that can produce results, increase productivity, and manage a cohesive team.

Knowing that 62% of executive decisions are made based solely on gut feelings, she wants to make a better hiring decision by obtaining more concrete data about each candidate.

Where Does She Start?

With over 30 years of research and experience in the fields of human behavior and performance, I believe that it’s unequivocally true that every person is unique and that all leaders (and the people they manage) have different talents. Here are some other confirmations:

  • The best leaders have a mix of natural and learned behaviors.
  • You can confirm that an individual belongs in a specific personality style, but the style categorization should not be used to put people in a “box”.
  • There are no good or bad personality styles to determine leadership ability—just different. Great leaders come from all styles.

So, it’s important to be objective and realize that anyone can become a successful leader.

Results vs. Relationships Evaluated

After evaluating that the base character and integrity of each candidate matches the values of the company, the next step is evaluating their results vs. relationships balance.

We’ve all been there and worked for the leader that got results but had no trusted relationships on their team. They were simply a machine that met the desired goals at any cost. On the flip side, there were the “fun leaders” that wasted hours every day talking and socializing with the team and then scrambled at the last minute to get a few things accomplished. They’re fun to be around, but results and progress ultimately fall short on a regular basis.

Statistically, 40% of leaders are more results (mission) oriented, and 40% are more relationships (people) oriented. The most effective leaders have balanced skills in both results and relationships.

For example, a successful leader must be tough or soft as the situation dictates.

Even though some leaders are naturally either tough or soft, that’s where our learned behaviors come into play to be truly successful.

Communication Style Analyzed

Another key area to evaluate is communication style when interacting with others. Think of the people on your own team or department and how different they are.

While the goal is treat everyone fairly, a successful leader understands the unique differences in people and communicates with them differently.

Some people will need more interaction with their manager than others in order to do a good job, while others are more self-managing. Some people work best when they can more on tasks, while others will work better when their work involves more frequent interaction with others.

The communication needs with these team members are different, too.

Successful leaders also need the courage do to the hard things such as confronting poor performance and bad behavior. It also takes courage for some leaders to do the soft things such as encouraging and supporting their people. Healthy accountability is critical to maintain standards and values, and that’s easier for some leaders to do than others.

All of these examples hinge on the leader’s natural and/or learned ability to communicate in different ways with different people.

The Next Step in Assessing Leaders

While other natural competencies such as problem-solving skills, decision-making skills, and support needed should also be considered, validating the key skills above is a wise endeavor.

To help with Carla’s hiring process, asking the right questions and using an assessment tool for each candidate will give her greater chances for success as she builds her team. With this new found data, she can choose a leader that has the character, courage, and the talent balance to propel the company forward and support a culture of great leadership.

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——————–
Lee Ellis

Lee Ellis is Founder & President of Leadership Freedom LLC & FreedomStar Media.
He is a leadership consultant and expert in teambuilding, executive development & assessments
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Blog | Book | Facebook | Twitter

His latest book is called Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton.

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Leaders: Do You Have What It Takes to Become a CEO?

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Spiritual Leaders Fight Against Intolerance

Intolerence

These days we cannot switch on the TV or web without having to confront intolerance. We see it internationally, nationally, and locally.

It even affects our relationships with family, friends, colleagues, and co-workers.

An Increasingly Intolerant World

We live in a world that is increasingly intolerant, one in which violence, untruthfulness, hate, mutual criticism abound, and people constantly and deliberately do hurtful things to others.

People’s approach to other is frequently one of:

  • Opposition
  • Confrontation
  • Rejection
  • Polarization
  • Widespread intolerance

People are paid lots of money to be intolerant, and they gather around them a large following of insecure people who delight to find their own intolerant attitudes supported by celebrities and leadership figures in politics or religion. These political, social, and religious “leaders” whip their followers into a frenzy over issues that are not central to their original vision, leading to catastrophes like ethnic cleansing, or even to the deliberate, destructive intention of labeling others to demean or destroy them.

People develop skills that foster intolerance, challenging people and especially leaders to be equally skilled in opposing it.

Ignorant and Uninterested

Intolerant OrganizationsIntolerant people are generally uninformed or ignorant, either by force of circumstances or by a deliberate closed mindedness—a desire not to learn what other people think or feel. Their deafness to others’ views and their unwillingness to search for common ground give rise to hatred for anyone who thinks differently than themselves.

Closed mindedness atrophies thought, but since knowledge is the basis of love it also stunts any ability to grow in understanding and love. Closed mindedness is not a normal characteristic of human beings who innately search for meaning, understanding, and enlightenment.

But, people are trained and initiated into closed mindedness generally by social, political, educational, or religious figures.

Some local groups or entire nations are known for their open-mindedness, and others for their closed mindedness. However, intolerant behavior is now a serious cultural problem that demands the attention of spiritual leaders who should model and teach tolerance

Rejecting a Bigger Picture

Most people do not think they are intolerant. Rather, they have false justification for their behavior. Many think they are being principled, consider their views the only acceptable ones, and see any attempt to understand others as weakness. Our society is riddled with extreme fundamentalism in politics, choice of political parties, judicial practice, approaches to foreign policy, and all sorts of issues in religion.

Litmus tests are everywhere, and any divergence from the acceptable, myopic views is rejected, and those who hold different views are despised.

Some of the most complicated contemporary issues receive simplistic answers from people who will not or cannot think things through. Such people often act like bulldozers, flattening all other ideas in their path.

Rejecting Intolerant Behavior

People who seek spiritual depth in their leadership need to reject all forms of intolerant behavior. This will mean first and foremost accepting the need to constantly learn anew, to appreciate that some change and adaptability guarantees the genuineness of values we hold. Never to change means always to live in the past.

We must have exceptional listening skills to understand others’ words, their deeper yearnings, their struggles, and their hopes.

We will need to be people of genuine dialogue, even with others who lack such skills. We can read and study with the desire to be more informed. From time to time we should rethink our own views, either to conclude in reaffirming them or to change them when we notice a loss of focus.

So many drag along behind them ideas from the past, emphasize what dedication used to be two thousand years ago. Intolerant behavior that closes the door on new ways of thinking and doing leads to myopic approaches that quickly destroy society—civic and religious. Spiritual leaders must react to this and give birth to tolerant behavior in every aspect of an organization.

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——————–
Dr. Leonard Doohand

Dr. Leonard Doohan  is an Author and Workshop Presenter
He focuses on issues of spiritual leadership
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Articles of Faith: Strong and Courageous Leadership: The Joshua Effect

This post is part of our Sunday Series titled “Articles of Faith.”
We investigate leadership lessons from the Bible.
See the whole series
here. Published only on Sundays.

An ongoing misperception in leadership is that a strong leader is an authoritative one. For centuries, it was acceptable that a leader must take control of his team and environment with boldness and a dogged determination to get the job done.

In the generation of our parents and grandparents who grew up at a time in history when more than half the men were veterans, the culture was established that “subordinates” followed a chain of command.

That belief was bred in the generations after, and today we still find leaders who are commanding, controlling, and micromanagers.

Finding a Better Way to Lead

To understand a more effective way to lead, we can find one of the best examples in a warrior leader profiled in the Bible.

Joshua was given authority to succeed Moses as the shepherd who would usher the Israelites into Canaan. What made Joshua a successful leader is that he was able to take the helm without disrupting the original plan. Moses had started the journey and nearly completed it before his death.

But then Joshua was instructed by God to complete the trip. He was told three times by God to “Be strong and courageous” suggesting that his efforts would not be without danger and fear. Sometimes those who are given the opportunity to lead feel that the only way to get through the tough times of a mission is to lead by intimidation, threats, and punishment.

This never works. Those who do find that morale declines as does job performance. Joshua helps us to understand that having authority does not mean being authoritative.

On Real Trust

We find in Joshua 1:10 that he “ordered” the officers of the people to go through the camp and tell them to get ready to cross over the Jordan River and enter into hostile territory. He prepared the men to fight the enemies who would surely come against them as they entered in.

But Joshua reminded the people that he had assurances from God that they would have success. He trusted God. He just needed to get the people to trust him as the leader appointed by God on the heels of a phenomenal Sherpa like Moses. He pulled the teams together and encouraged them to support one another.

Then the most satisfying words that any leader could hear came from the people:

“Whatever you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. Just as we fully obeyed Moses, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with you as he was with Moses.”

Then just like God they encouraged him to be strong and courageous.

Winning Loyalty and Respect

How did Joshua win the loyalty and respect of this people?

He had three things working in his favor:

  1. The people knew he had been coached and mentored by an established and wise leader like Moses. He had learned from one greater than he, and he was open to correction and training.
  2. He exuded confidence but not cockiness. He was humble enough to know he would not be able to take the land on his own. He would need the help of his team.
  3. He delegated responsibility to the officers and allowed them to go through the camp and give orders to the people in preparation for the big move. He did so without interference. He trusted his people to do what he’d asked them to do, and then he stayed out of their way.

All leaders can learn from Joshua’s confident and inclusive manner of leadership. He was strong but not overbearing, courageous but not arrogant, focused but not inflexible. Inasmuch as he was all these things, he was also wildly successful and prosperous.

Follow his lead.

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———————
Betty Parker, CPLP

Betty Parker is President of Sharper Development Solutions, Inc.
Her daily goal is to turn Managers into Leaders through Training and Coaching.
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Google+ | Blog | Web

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