01 März 2024

With heart and mind: The power of empathy in leadership culture

Posted in Führung, Leadership

With heart and mind: The power of empathy in leadership culture
Maintaining consistently good professional performance over decades can be a real challenge for employees, especially when personal or private matters demand attention. HR managers who proactively approach employees with understanding, care, and flexible solutions in such situations demonstrate empathetic leadership strength.

A long-time employee excitedly tells her supervisor about a recent training session she attended that greatly inspired her during a one-on-one conversation. She gesticulates vividly, her eyes sparkling. She talks about the ideas and insights she gained, which she would like to pursue together with the team.

However, her counterpart does not notice any of this at the moment. The supervisor nods in agreement now and then, but does not really know what the employee is talking about. The supervisor's thoughts had drifted away at the beginning of the narrative and are already on the next meeting. It's a pity because what the employee reports would certainly have been important and interesting. And above all, she deserves to be listened to attentively and engaged with.

Empathy in leadership culture: Listening as the basis of a good dialogue

Deadlines, appointments, stress, inattentiveness, disinterest, focused on one's own inner world – there are many reasons why we do not listen properly to others, as this purely fictional example illustrates. Truly listening to another means not just hearing the facts but also the nuances. A genuine conversation is about diving into the thoughts and feelings of the other person and thus being able to empathize with their inner life – to truly empathize.

This form of listening requires curiosity, openness, and care – qualities that should be present in individuals with HR responsibilities today. Leaders should not only engage well on a factual level but also on a human level, especially when colleagues are going through difficult life phases.

Employee engagement and appreciation go hand in hand

Needs are as individual as people themselves. A person's current life phase significantly influences the priorities they set. For example, career starters may have a different focus than new parents or colleagues nearing retirement. This reality also extends to difficult life phases – such as illness or a death in the immediate family – and personal challenges. It is therefore essential to empathetically address the individual situation of each person.

Regular and active exchange with team members and employees is thus of essential importance for leaders. Through one-on-one conversations and specially designed formats, both parties create a space where personal concerns can be openly discussed. The focus is on highlighting individual needs and developing tailored solutions. After all, employee engagement with the company and the appreciation they experience go hand in hand.

Ultimately, work life is not just about the work outcome. Especially long-term colleagues should definitely be supported by the employer during difficult phases to retain them in the company. The departure of such individuals risks the loss of long-standing know-how and, potentially, culturally significant, valued personalities. More importantly, however, is the signal of humanity that corporate leaders send to the workforce when they stand by a team member in tough times.

Self-reflection promotes understanding

Of course, no one acts flawlessly, including leaders. It can happen that one does not listen properly in a conversation or reacts impatiently or even somewhat irritably in a meeting. Self-reflection is essential after such events. Emotions also play an important role here. The ability to include emotions in the self-reflection process promotes understanding, compassion, and a values-based corporate culture. Admitting mistakes, openly addressing emotions, and showing sincere apologies are signs of humanity.

Leaders aware of their own emotional reactions can better assess how emotions influence their judgment. Accordingly, strategies should be developed to minimize personal bias.

Not just a matter of compassion, but also of success

An empathetic leadership culture proves to be a key to success for a pleasant working atmosphere with satisfied employees who identify with the company. By standing by their team members attentively, with humanity, and individual support, leaders not only promote well-being and motivation but also secure long-term corporate success.

Emotions, active listening, and the willingness to address individual concerns help in understanding each other and create a solid foundation for development, growth, and fulfillment.

About the Person Sina Zeißler-Hofmann is responsible for the workforce of the Frankfurt digital agency ARTUS interactive as Head of People and Culture. Her main focus is on collaboration and a values-based culture.

About the person

Sina Zeißler-Hofmann is responsible for the workforce of the Frankfurt digital agancy ARTUS interactive as Head of People and Culture. Her main focus is on collaboration and a values-based culture.

Source: hrjournal.de

Note: The article was automatically translated using ChatGPT-4 by OpenAI

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