Build Your Leadership, Build Your TeamFeb 08, 2023
- By Sophie Pinkoski
According to a Gallup survey, only 10% of people naturally possess leadership qualities. What’s more, in a 2016 employee engagement poll, Gallup found that 82% of people felt their leaders lacked leadership skills. Fortunately, good leadership is something that can be taught.
Given the unpredictable nature of the pandemic and continuing uncertainty for the year ahead, the learning curve has only become steeper, and the necessity for leadership training and development, even more crucial.
One of the most valued skills emerging in a today's world is empathy, which has fast become a driving force for promoting engagement within your team. 79% of people prefer working with an empathetic leader, even if it means changing jobs or career paths to find an organization that prioritizes supporting individuals.
If you’re a leader who struggles with empathy, there are ways you can develop this particular soft skill to better support your team.
Review your current leadership style –– The first step to improving your leadership skills is to seek feedback from your team and listen to what they have to say. Their insights will indicate aspects of your current leadership style that need further refining. This will help you narrow down your priorities for targeted leadership development. Consider being intentional in adding emotional intelligence to your list. Be aware that if emotional intelligence and empathy are already a challenge within your organization, your team may be reluctant to share constructive feedback with you. But having the self-awareness to address these necessary skills is already a productive step toward improving your organization in the long-run. Let your team know you are taking their input on board and prepare to act on it.
Role model ideal behaviours –– Once you’ve identified the areas you are focusing on to develop, it’s up to you as a leader to set an example for your team. Face current biases, behaviours, and actions that are no longer serving your team head on and work to reverse them.
One of the best habits you can start incorporating into your leadership style is recognizing your team members’ accomplishments, no matter how big or small.
If they see you acknowledging their contributions and effort, they may follow and start doing the same for each other. Appreciation boosts productivity and maintains employee retention. When your team sees you modeling positive behaviours like this, they will feel more comfortable in sharing their opinions, ideas, and skills for the overall benefit of the organization.
Reinforce your actions –– Regular habits aren’t formed unless they’re done so often, and they become second-nature. In order to reinforce healthy habits in your team, celebrate and highlight examples of strong positive behaviour.
As a leader yourself, it’s going to take time to get used to adding new habits to your repertoire.
It’s okay to have a designated person to give you a nudge to keep you on track. Maybe you need reminders to include supportive check-ins at meetings, or to take the time to acknowledge individual accomplishments. If some leadership skills, like empathy, are a challenge for you, be sure to fill those gaps in your team by surrounding yourself with people who exemplify those skills and keep them by your side.
At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that there is no one right way to promote empathetic leadership.
Every organization is unique and has their own strengths and weaknesses.
Keep your own challenges in mind and work toward closing skill gaps through leadership development, coaching, and mentorship, and don’t forget to fill your team with individuals with a diverse range of skills.
Fostering a Greater Sense of Empathy in Organizations, Capgemini Invent
2020 State of Workplace Empathy, Businessolver
3 Strategies to Help Employees Thrive in the New “Normal”, Harvard Business Review