“Empathy fuels connection; sympathy drives disconnection.”
– Brene´ Brown
Through research, I have learned that a predominant theory is that leaders tend to subscribe to two different routes for leadership. The first is a “task-oriented” style where leaders focus their behaviors on the specifics roles of the job and productivity. The second is “relations-oriented leadership,” where leaders focus on emotional behaviors to create quality relationships, such as listening, loyalty, trust, providing support and encouragement.
The leaders who were authentic and vested in following a relations-oriented leadership style were able to produce more results — and even more impressive — retain their staff for more extended periods of time. Remember, trust and respect are motivators for an employee to stay at a company even when the financial lure may be tempting.
A great employee leaves a bad leader, not a company.
How else can you effectively lead without truly understanding those that you are responsible for? To be a successful leader, it is imperative that you develop the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. This will be your connection to greatness — the switch to ignite empowerment. The trust and respect to earn loyalty.
Far too often, leaders are stubborn and lean toward the old-school management style which states that you should have a clear and distinct separation between those who work for you, and those whom you call friends. You can’t mix the two. “Having friendships with your subordinates will only create problems”, the theory says.
Through experience, observation, discussion, and application, I cannot entirely agree with this. Keeping an arm’s-length distance between yourself and your team will get you nowhere. If you want complete buy-in, loyalty, commitment, and trust, you have to be willing to step outside your comfort zone.
In my opinion, there is no way as a leader that you would have the ability to be able to map another’s thoughts, needs, motivations, feelings, attitudes beliefs and issues without empathy. People don’t want your pity; they are looking for your human side, the connection.