Saturday, August 4, 2012

Empathy Is A Component Of Good Leadership


If you have a work at home business with employees or independent contractors, you are expected to be a leader. You must develop a team of productive people with positive attitudes. This is easier said than done and it requires you to have several skills. One of these is empathy, or being aware of and understanding the feelings, thoughts, and experiences of other people. Entrepreneurs must not only understand these attributes of their team members, they must also understand how they are perceived by these individuals.

It is not easy to gain awareness about ourselves and other people. Being in a position of power can make this even more difficult, say experts. It is natural for an employee to pay more attention to supervisors, managers, and others more highly-ranked within the company. The individuals in those positions must be aware of this and tailor their speech and actions accordingly. This bias may put them at a disadvantage but it is nothing they cannot overcome.

Whether you consider yourself empathetic and want to improve your skills or you are developing your empathy from scratch, practice will help you achieve your goals. When you are in a group setting, take a step back and observe yourself. Whether this means getting permission to record a team meeting in audio or video format or doing a quick evaluation after each time you speak, it will be helpful.

 Good leaders realize that each team member is different and brings a unique skill set to the table. To identify these differences, listen to members of the team and take note of their behaviors and reactions. This will help you infer their feelings and thoughts. Assume the role of observer at the next team meeting, noting the dynamics between team members. Once you have identified the unique qualities of each person, you can integrate this information into your leadership of the team.

If empathy is not inherent, get assistance from an empathetic member of your management team. Ask this individual for help in understanding other team members. In addition, request feedback regarding your leadership behavior. Having someone you trust as an ally in your quest to develop empathy makes the process much easier. Even the most notable corporate leaders, like Mark Zuckerberg from Facebook, take this approach.

While attempting to be more empathetic, do not confuse your efforts with being nicer. Empathy is not to be used as a method to get approval from the team or as an answer to issues. It should be used only when needed and in the appropriate settings. Good leaders need not be the nicest people but they should be in touch with the strengths and weaknesses of their team members and know what motivates these individuals.

Once you become a more empathetic leader, you will notice positive changes within your home business. The team will work better together and with you, which should increase productivity and the effectiveness of subgroups. At the end of the day, everyone will feel understood and will be motivated to achieve new goals. 

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