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Monday, November 12, 2018

Great Leaders Have Empathy and Perspective

Trust and cooperation are not standard in our organizations and yet we know they should be. There are two attributes that every single leader has the opportunity to possess that will help them create the types of organizations we would be proud to call our own. Those two attributes are empathy and perspective.

I came across this YouTube video about leadership in business from Simon Sinek where he talks about leadership, empathy, and perspective.

Here are few keynote insights:

On Leadership    

“Leaders are so concerned about their status and position in an organization that they actually forget their real job. And the real job of a leader is not about being in-charge, it is about taking care those in their charge.”

When you are in your junior, your only responsibility is to be good at your job. Companies even give us tons of trainings on how to do our jobs, and then they expect us to be good at our jobs. And if you are good, the company will promote you. At some point you will get promoted in a position where you are now responsible for the people who do the job you used to do, but nobody really showed you how to do that. And that is why we get managers and not leaders. Because the reason our managers are micro-managing us is because they actually do not know how to do the job better than us.

One of the great things that is lacking in most companies is that they are not teaching their employees how to ‘lead.’ Leadership is a skill like any other. It is a learnable skill. And if companies practice real leadership, their employees will become great leaders, Sinek said.

But the reason why some do not want to a leader is because it comes with great personal sacrifice. Remember, you are not in-charge, you are responsible for those who are in your charge. That means when everything goes right, you have to give out all the credit. And when everything goes wrong, you have to take all the responsibility. It is like when something breaks and goes wrong, instead of yelling at your employee(s) and taking over, you say try again.

At the end of the day, great leaders are not responsible for the job – they are responsible for the people who are responsible for the job.

On Empathy

Companies need to fill their organization with the right people, BUT what if it is not just about finding the right people? What if the problem is the company’s environment?

Sinek plotted that companies should have an environment where employees can be at their natural best. Because companies are so quick to fire their struggling employees without knowing what they are going through.

“Why is it that if somebody has performance problems at work, why is it that the company’s instinct is to say… you’re out?”

“We do not practice empathy.”

Here is an example of a lack of empathy:

You walk into someone’s office, someone walks into your office and say: ‘Your numbers are down for the third quarter in a row, you have to pick up your numbers otherwise I cannot guarantee what the future would look like.’

How inspired do you think that person is to come to work the next day?

Now, here’s what empathy looks like:

You walk into someone’s office, someone walks into your office and say: ‘Your numbers are down for the third quarter in a row. Are you okay? I am worried about you. What’s going on?’

The point here is, we all have performance issues. Maybe someone’s kid is sick, maybe someone’s parent is dying — we do not know what is going on with their lives. And of course, it will affect their performance at work.

“Empathy is being concerned about the human being, not just their output.”

Great leaders should practice empathy towards their people (employees), Sinek suggested.

This simply means that leaders should create a good learning environment in which someone feels safe enough to raise their hand and say ‘I need help.’ It’s about helping people to be at their natural best.

On Perspective

It’s not about winning or losing.

In this point, Sinek explained that the game of business has no winners or losers. Mainly because companies do not know the game they’re in, and they do not have any set of rules.

There’s no winning in the game of business because there are no rules. So, how can a company declare that its number one when no one has agreed to the rules? It’s simply arbitrary. There is no winning because there’s no rule and there’s no end, Sinek pointed.

In other words, beating your ‘competition’ doesn’t make sense because you don’t have any, but yourself.

Moreover, great companies do not play to win or to be number one, but to outlast the game of business. They understand that sometimes you are ahead and sometimes you are a little bit behind. Those great companies understand that it is not about the battle, it’s about the war.

So, if you want to be a good leader, start with empathy and change your perspective, and play the game you are actually playing, Sinek ended.

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