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Friday, July 9, 2021

Lean Quote: Build a Culture of Empathy

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.

"You can only understand people if you feel them in yourself.  —  John Steinbeck

It has been said, “You can’t truly love another before you learn to love yourself.” Organizations are no different. If we don’t love and respect and admire the people we work with every day, we can’t collectively give our customers the love they deserve. Empathy is an inside-out job.

Empathy is the ability to put yourself in another’s shoes and walk a mile.  It’s the ability to imagine what it might be like to experience and relate to the thoughts, emotions, and experience of the other person. Empathy is more than simple sympathy, which is being able to understand and support others with compassion or sensitivity.

Some people naturally exude empathy and have an advantage over their peers who have difficulty expressing empathy. Most leaders fall in the middle and are sometimes or somewhat empathetic. Fortunately, empathy is not a fixed trait. It can be learned. If given enough time and support, leaders can develop and enhance their empathy skills through coaching, training, or developmental opportunities and initiatives.

In the workplace, showing empathy can help you to understand an employee’s situation and recognize the outside factors that may or may not be contributing to their performance. It is essentially the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, think about how they might feel or react to a given situation, and adjust your actions and responses to connect with them on their level.

Build a culture of empathy. Empathy is an essential component of caring about your customers, your employees, and your company, and its absence signals larger problems in organizational culture. Empathy can’t be plastered on like a fake smile, but it can be cultivated from within.

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