Apathetic managers take care of business concerns. But they disregard the people under their leadership, which hurts morale, trust, and productivity. To bring out the best in your people, the better approach is to lead with empathy—here’s how.
The most important requirement for empathy is emotional intelligence. This means reading the situation and assuming good intent no matter how others behave. Then, you connect your own experience to theirs in a way that leads to understanding.
You can build emotional intelligence by practicing empathetic listening. Tune out everything else and focus directly on the other person you’re interacting with. By listening to what they’re actually saying, you can respond to their needs productively. Don’t be discouraged if this skill doesn’t come naturally at first. Empathetic listening takes practice. It will also likely feel uncomfortable from time to time. Sometimes you may not realize that you have more listening to do. Other times you may be unsure which questions to ask. That’s all part of the learning process.
Be patient and apply your learning to your next interaction. Stay committed, and in time, you’ll become a more empathetic and effective team leader.