I remember waaaaaaay back in the day, a manager of mine was telling me that I was too close to my staff. That because I cared "too much" (quotey fingers and all) that they would take advantage of me or that I would never be able to make the hard decisions.
"You will never make it in management. You are too soft."
Wow, what a jerk.
I know it seems petty of me, but to this day if anyone that I work with has some form of success, I do a mental "Take That" dance.
Of course I never really changed my approach. I am much more conscious, though, of how someone can use my empathy and compassion for manipulation, but that hasn't dissuaded me in the least.
Why does Empathy (or vulnerability or transparency) equate to weakness? I mean, sure, there are managers who may have a really hard time drawing the lines once they get to know their people. And, yes, that might mean they get taken advantage of, but that just means that particular leader or manager needs to work on their Accountability skills...not their Connection skills.
Being a Connected Leader means caring about those in your charge, or your peers, or your managers...is NEVER wrong.
The benefits of being an empathetic leader are:
Open to the opportunity of change - Sometimes when people are griping about the mundane part of their job, it's because they know there is a better way to do things....how about listening instead of pushing them aside?
Fuels collaboration - The more you talk about what is wrong, not working well or how things can be done "better", the more the teamwork together to streamline operations.
Team models the behavior - Which usually leads to higher customer satisfaction.
Builds trust and understanding - This is a no brainer, but it does call for the balance of accountability.
Minimizes conflicts - If your team is in an environment where speaking up about their issues is accepted, it doesn't give time for brooding or built up anger to happen. Often times blow-ups are over the simplest or silliest of things.
You learn what is important to your team.
Empathy is a tool in the toolbelt of The Connected Leader. Don't be afraid to listen to your team for fear of getting too close. There is no such thing.
What do you think? Comment here or over on our Facebook page.
Be a Connected Leader. -Renata