Empathic leadership has never been more critical than it is today, especially when what unites people across the globe are confusion, fear and isolation as we all try to navigate our way through the uncharted waters of a global pandemic.
Why the need for empathy?
For many people, their working life has been turned upside down. Keyworkers are the new frontline army, going into daily battle concerned they don’t have enough protection and fearful for their lives. Other workers are being furloughed and set adrift from their colleagues and workplace, not knowing for how long or even if they will have a job to go back to. A number of businesses need to stay open as they are part of a vital supply chain, and need employees to still turn up for work, despite the wishes of many to be able to stay at home to stay safe. Some organisations have had no choice but to cut costs through redundancies and implement other cost cutting measures such as a 2, 3 or 4-day week.
Then you have your homeworkers. Professional teams who need to rethink the way they work as they abandon long held and successful routines. No longer able to go into the office with their well-designed workspace, failsafe IT structure and the support and camaraderie of colleagues. Now they wrestle with make-do offices, home wi-fi, technology issues, children at home often competing for attention, the need to home school and maintaining motivation throughout it all.
For those still lucky enough to be working, the pressures are multiplying as businesses are left spinning trying to make sense of what is happening and predict how, or even if, they are going to survive. Cuts are being made, colleagues are being let go and those that are left are under increasing pressure.
On top of all this, people are gravely concerned about the health of their families and themselves.
Empathic leadership is one of the top skills needed in today’s workplace, to maintain a sense of calm, provide understanding and patience, come up with effective ways of working and staying in touch while leading by example and giving the workforce, wherever they may be, a continued purpose and goal to collectively stride towards.
What makes an Empathic Leader?
- Empathy: forgive stating the obvious, but the ability to understand the varied feelings, struggles and challenges people will be facing at any given time and the impact this will have on their well-being, mental health and performance.
- Intuition: having that sixth sense to pick up on the undertow of concerns and who is at greater risk and in need of reassurance, guidance or support.
- Listening skills: the ability to not just to listen, but to actually hear the workforce with clarity and insight and be able to read behind the lines.
- Prioritization: knowing what is essential, from both a tactical and strategic perspective, and to give clear direction on where the focus needs to be.
- Creative solutions: these are crazy mixed up times and what was once normality has all too quickly been lost. As new challenges can be springing up daily there is a need for out-of-the-box thinking and creative solutions.
- Strength – the strength to maintain the vision, lead by example, maintain high standards, and uphold good performance whilst balancing this with compassion, kindness and understanding.
The importance of communication
It would be foolish to ignore the importance of communication and the need for a multi-faceted approach during these times of disruption. Not just for the workers still operational, but also your furloughed staff, for those working from home, or employees at risk and under stricter isolation measures.
Let’s also not under-estimate the need for new ways of social interaction to replace those water cooler conversations, both work-related and personal. After all, it’s not just our blood or marital relations we miss during times of isolation, we often miss our ‘work families’ and work colleagues too.
For organisations looking for ways to improve their Empathic Leadership skills and help employees and managers cope with the challenges the current global pandemic crisis presents, we have created the Empathic Leadership Engagement Package. This includes unique features to help listen into the mood of the workplace, mechanisms to receive candid, anonymous feedback from your employees and build empathic leadership skills within your middle management.