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Choosing Empathy

Apr 24, 2023 | Conscious Leadership, Daily Trek

Leading with Empathy - Radical Trekking - Ayelet Baron

Leading with Empathy

Leading with empathy connects us in meaningful ways. Listening deeply helps us understand needs and foster an environment of trust. A conscious leader understands actions impact people. Having empathy means being self-aware and in tune with our emotions, thoughts, and actions. Uniting people around a higher purpose is a way of life and work.

Emerging media stories in the last few weeks put a spotlight on why leadership in today’s world is increasingly about our ability to be conscious. Walking our talk is more foundational than ever.

As you may know, two company leaders made blunders in video calls with employees. Andi Owen, CEO of MillerKnoll, scolded workers who asked about bonuses. Owen criticized employees for complaining about not receiving bonuses, even though she earned nearly $5 million in total compensation last year. But later apologized for seeming insensitive.

James Clarke, Clearlink CEO, praised an employee who sold their family dog to return to the office. And also questioned the ability of working moms as primary caregivers to be productive employees. Both incidents were seen as being tone-deaf and perhaps not leading from the heart with empathy.

But empathy doesn’t always come easily to today’s leaders and a sprinkle of discomfort may be what is needed to practice conscious communication.

The Power of Heartfelt Leadership

In a world where more of us are choosing to simply live our lives, we advocate for ourselves. And no longer give our power away. What is being revealed is the true nature of some business leaders who may simply not know how to show empathy. Perhaps it’s also an outdated belief that leaders can say and do anything simply because they hold power.

In the past, the lesson here would be that being a leader is hard. And a a simple rule is to show empathy or stay silent, especially when addressing sensitive topics like layoffs, pay or flexibility. But that doesn’t fly anymore.

What is truly important now is authentic and conscious leaders who show up every day and are not on a power trip. Maybe things are falling apart to come back together in a much healthier way. Because we have an opportunity to understand that people are at the heart of everything.

Bob Chapman in his book Everybody Matters shares, once you stop treating people like functions or costs, disengaged workers begin to share their gifts and talents toward a shared future. Uninspired workers stop feeling that their jobs have no meaning. Frustrated workers stop taking their bad days out on their spouses and kids. And everyone stops counting the minutes until it’s time to go home.

By being aware of our needs and the needs of those around us, we practice radical honesty, moving beyond superficial interactions. Telling the truth holds value because it enables us to observe. And observing means being present in the world of real experience where alignment is key.

With empathy for ourselves and each other, we actively create what we need, fueled by a clear inner purpose that illuminates everything.

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