The ability to understand others, commonly referred to as empathy, is a vital leadership skill that helps leaders understand and communicate with colleagues to move initiatives and projects forward. When there is a lack of empathy throughout an organization, people are often uncomfortable sharing new ideas, collaborating, and taking on new roles and responsibilities that would help move the collective forward. Empathetic leaders are associated with being extraordinary listeners and communicators who seek to understand others before making big decisions. Without this embedded throughout an organization, especially at the leadership level, organizations risk losing to their competitors who are more innovative, productive, efficient, and easier to work with.
Here are three common organizational challenges that empathy can solve.
Lack of Communication Among Diverse Workforce
Early on in a leader’s career, it is important to take classes relevant to diversity within the workplace as it relates to cultures. While I was working at Johnson and Johnson, all employees and consultants, regardless of the position that they held, had to take annual training on cultural diversity in the workplace.
Learning about different cultures enabled me to better communicate with teams, and truly understand the differences. Once an individual has the ability to understand the differences in another individual and appreciate them, new friendships and comradery typically form. This leads to improved communication, an increase in the quality of work, and overall more effective teamwork flow.
Ineffective Problem Solving
If an empathetic work environment is not established from the beginning, it makes it nearly impossible for the company to thrive. Empathy, understanding and appreciating all of your colleagues’ differences and strengths, will empower everyone to be the very best that they can be. Having an empathetic team eliminates a culture of finger-pointing, and supports a collective mindset of being solution-oriented. When everyone on the team is comfortable speaking up and discussing issues openl, issues will take longer to resolve.
How to Lay a Foundation of Empathy Within Your Organization
While many organizations strive to lay a foundation for empathy, it does not alway happen to the extent that needs to happen. It takes commitment from senior leadership to move the foundation forward in a cohesive manner. In the beginning, building an empathetic foundation will take longer as you will develop processes to support an empathetic foundation. Hosting team building sessions that focus on learning about one another can help move the needle forward in an effective, meaningful way.
As you progress in building an empathetic foundation within your organization, you will find that your team, partners in other companies, and even service providers will appreciate the new energy that your organization brings. Take the plunge, build an empathetic organization, and let the magic happen!
Written by Christina DiArcangelo.
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