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The Importance of Empathy In Leadership

As a leader, becoming empathetic is one of the biggest challenges you’ll ever face.

“Empathy is about finding echoes of another person in yourself.” — Mohsin Hamid

Food For Thought

How To Build Empathy As A Leader

“And if it’s real real love then you make sacrifices
To get ahead man you gotta make sacrifices”
–Big Sean

As a leader, becoming empathetic is one of the biggest challenges you’ll ever face. Here is the most powerful thought experiment I’ve found to catalyze empathy in myself, and get a better handle on my emotions:

Write down or talk through the sacrifices others have made for you. Who loves you and how have they shown it? After reflecting on those moments, I find myself emotionally available and ready to empathize. Leaders have to be able to *accurately* remember and reflect on the sacrifices loved ones have made for them. After that, try reflecting on the sacrifices made by those in your industry that have opened new frontiers, or those that built the infrastructures that your business runs on.

Empathy isn’t easy. But you can always catalyze empathy when you reflect on the sacrifices of others. If you’re unafraid to truly examine the sacrifices made by people who love you, when the time comes, you can be in a position to make sacrifices for them.

Making the right personal sacrifices for others is difficult, but in some ways it is the foundational skill of any leader. The goal of becoming empathetic is to help create situations for the people you love or lead (ideally both!) that make them feel WONDERFUL. And when you make someone feel wonderful, you usually can’t help but feel wonderful in return.

Empathy is the art of remembering when others have helped make you feel good, empowered, of just heard, and then paying that feeling forward to others.

I’ll let Maya Angelou take it from here:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Deep Dive

Empathy in the Workplace: A Tool for Effective Leadership

“Empathy is a construct that is fundamental to leadership. Many leadership theories suggest the ability to have and display empathy is an important part of leadership. Transformational leaders need empathy in order to show their followers that they care for their needs and achievement. Authentic leaders also need to have empathy in order to be aware of others. Empathy is also a key part of emotional intelligence that several researchers believe is critical to being an effective leader.”

Read the article.

Further Listening

From West Point to the C-Suite of Johnson & Johnson

Marene Allison has seen a lot in her career and life. She was one of the first women to graduate from West Point and then went on to a role at the FBI bringing down some of the largest drug rings on the East Coast. Eventually, she moved on to the private sector to head up security for A&P Foods and today, she is the Vice President and Chief Information Security Officer for Johnson & Johnson.

On this episode of IT Visionaries, Marene discusses her entire journey, as well as everything she’s learned along the way. She also talks about what it means to lead IT and security for a worldwide organization, what the future of AI and consumer privacy looks like, and much more!

Listen to the episode.


Mission Control Before & After

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Happy Thursday!

What leadership tips do you have? Share them with us by replying to this email or hitting us up on Twitter @TheMissionHQ.

We hope you have a fun (and productive) mini-Friday! 😉

This was originally published on April 18, 2019 as the Mission’s daily newsletter. To subscribe, go here.

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