Everything is personal. Each and every one of us takes everything personally. You know this is true by your reaction when someone gives you bad news, then says, “It’s not personal.” If an action or a decision affects you in any way whatsoever, it’s personal.
INPowering leaders know their decisions will affect others personally. Yet, as followers, we want to know that we are safe in the care of our leaders–that they would never intentionally do anything to harm us.
Empathetic leaders are able to build this bond of trust with followers simply because they do care and are able to demonstrate it in word and deed.
Here are three things you can begin doing immediately to strengthen this bond by being more empathetic.
1. Practice resonate listening
Resonate listening is engaging the speaker to get on their wave length. Too often, we try to bring them onto our wave length and totally miss the meaning of what they are saying. Listen to understand and to help them express their meaning fully and authentically. Then, and only then, are we in sync with their message.
Resonate listening also helps us imagine what it’s like to be the other person. We can get inside them, in a sense, and grasp what they are feeling and experiencing. We can comprehend their reality.
2. Be curious about others
The empathetic leader seeks out others to learn something about them beyond their name, rank, and serial number. Failure to get to know those we lead reduces our connection to what they can do for us rather than how they will be affected by our relationship.
Take time to ask about their hopes and dreams, their family and friends, their hobbies and interests, and their experience of being part of your team or your organization.
3. Give full time and attention to your interaction with others
Friends who have met former President Bill Clinton personally have told me that when he spoke to them, they felt they were the only person in the room with him. He devoted his full attention to what they were saying. They felt a connection.
We all have experienced what it’s like to be talking with someone who is not really paying attention or has lost interest in what we are saying. The conversation is shallow, and no connection happens.
If you are always in a rush to get someplace else, you can’t fully be present in the moment. Sometimes, all it takes is a moment to engage someone personally and fully, but the memory of that encounter will last. Be fully present in each and every interaction.
One thing all effective leaders have in common is their ability to be empathetic. Their power comes from the way they connect with others, which fosters bonding and loyalty.