What if I told you that by creating a more loving, compassionate work culture, you could drive better results and make more money?
Right now you may be nodding your head in agreement … or shaking it in disbelief.
If you are doing the former, there’s a good chance you’ve embraced the Empathy Era. Congratulations.
Let me explain.
A few days ago, I had an interesting coaching session with a leader. He was telling me that he wanted his team to be able to have real, frank discussions.
He wanted people to actively discuss a ‘negative or charged’ situation. But his company culture was so focused on heads-down work and avoiding ‘personal or uncomfortable’ conversations that he didn’t know where to start.
This was a challenge for him, and it’s a challenge for many leaders.
You can argue that for the past 50 years much of western world leadership has revolved around execution and expertise. We promote people because they have functional knowledge and/or are masters of their verticals. We don’t often promote people because they’re good, caring individuals.
That might be changing, and I’d argue it has to change.
We need to transition from ‘command and control’ cultures to ‘listen and love’ cultures. In other words, we need to move beyond execution and expertise to empathy.
We are now in the Empathy Era
I’ll break it down.
- Many leaders have revealed to me that they fear being perceived as incompetent and most major studies of senior leaders support this finding. (It’s all good, as it implies leaders are human.)
- From that fear, I’d argue this follows:
- You need to believe in yourself to be a leader
- You need to care for yourself to be a leader
If you don’t achieve those 2 bullet points, you’re not much of a leader.
- If you’ve mastered those 2 items, the natural extension would be:
- You need to care for others to be a leader.
- You need to be compassionate with others to be a leader.
- In short, you need to be empathetic.
Empathetic Cultures Drive More Profits
Now, I know the response that comes back from a lot of leaders — and I’ve heard this from them directly: the point of a workplace isn’t love, compassion, and empathy. In most cases, it’s making money and pleasing stakeholders. Right? Right.
Yet studies reveal more empathetic cultures drive more profits.
It’s true. Emma Seppala, a researcher at Stanford, has shown this. Compassionate and loving workplace cultures naturally reduce burnout and churn while increasing productivity (12 percent and more), says her research.
The sheer fact of the matter is this: many of us spend close to 60 hours/week on tasks, topics, and ideas related to work. That time can’t be all nose-to-the-grindstone deliverables-chasing work. There needs to be degrees of connection, of love, of being authentic, of being compassionate, and true empathy at work.
This will make us all better leaders, better co-workers, and more productive individual contributors. And hey, in the process we might all make some more money too.
About Lisa Martin, PCC
I help high achievers – people like you – Lead + Live Better™. I support new and seasoned leaders to gain the clarity and confidence to work more effectively and have more impact. And I equip organizations with leadership development programs which cultivate amazing leaders at every level.
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