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April 10, 2019

Another Strategy to Be a Leader People Want to Follow


In a recent post, I talked about why people follow leaders – because of how they make people feel.

The first sure-fire tip to help engender positive feelings about you and your leadership – and get people to follow you – is to paint a picture of the future.

Here’s the second:

Tip #2 – Empathize 

Empathy in the workplace involves understanding how others feel because you can imagine what it’s like to be in someone else’s shoes. You demonstrate a willingness to respond to someone else’s needs. 

Listening empathetically lets your employees know you care because it taps one of our strongest human drives – to be heard and understood. You don’t have to agree with how someone else feels. Your reaction might be the exact opposite, but empathy inherently isn’t about you – it’s about the other person. Listen fully and play back how someone else feels.

Here are five critical steps to demonstrate empathy and better connect with your employees:

  1. Listen without interruption, and focus solely on the other person
  2. Pause and imagine how your employee is feeling
  3. Show you hear them by reflecting back what they are saying: “What I hear you saying is…”
  4. Validate their feelings: “I understand you’re feeling…”
  5. Support and close the conversation

Responding with empathy, and reflecting back feelings when appropriate, not only demonstrates good listening, it shows you are sincere and care.

The payoff is an employee who knows you care, which is motivating; and at the same time, you gather information that’s useful for you.

How can you show your employees you care, and build trust through empathy?

—David Grossman

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