Empathy is not a Weakness

Updated: Nov 26, 2020

You have no idea how thankful I am that there are more and more people, a movement really, advocating for heart-centered, people-centered leadership. I mean for Pete's sake, how do you expect to actually lead people if you don't know, understand, and feel for your people?

I find it odd though, that we are even in this predicament. I find it even odder when I meet managers who build a giant wall between themselves and anything emotional that has to do with their team. I mean, your team is human are they not? So, if someone on your team is going through something pretty traumatic or even exciting, what, are you supposed to ignore them? Where in the heck did this thinking come from and why is it still the norm? Why is the status quo or what is handed down the line to new managers is the sentiment that if you show emotions or empathy for another person it's a sign of weakness?

In Chip Conley's book Emotional Equations, he says the following:

"Humanity's common currency, emotions, is how we connect, even when we have little else in common. Emotional fluency is the ability to sense, translate, and effectively apply the power of emotions in a healthy and productive manner. Yet most of us have more training in how to use our car or computer than we do in how to use our emotions in work and life."

I could list off at least 20 reasons why leading with your heart is the most productive and inspiring way to lead, but what I would like to point out is obvious. Just because I get excited that an employee's son was just accepted into the college program of his dreams, doesn't mean that I can't celebrate for a few minutes and then tell her "Ok, it's time to get back after it." And just because an employee tells me that his nephew committed suicide and he's struggling, doesn't mean that I should treat him poorly because he will be a basket case and non-productive. Both of these are real situations I experienced as a manager. In the case of suicide, I hugged him and I cried. Then, together, we set out on a plan of how to get him support at work, so he could do what he needed to do for himself without letting the team down by letting his workload come to a standstill. If I had been the manager that shut that down what kind of employee do you think he would have been when he returned? Grateful and looking to be productive or spiteful and looking for a new job?

Empathy is not a weakness. It's a power of influence.

Lead with greatness everyone.


What do you think?