Leading in Pain: Part 2
Updated: Feb 24
We previously examined the responsibility of a leader to empower staff in pain.
That empathy is the material of resilience, the fabric upon which productivity is drawn.
There are three simple parts to compassionate or empathic leadership:
1. Cognitive – “I understand you”
2. Feelings – “I feel for you”
3. Action – “I want to help you – this is how I can”
Below are four tips for expressing compassion when your people are in pain.
The act of externalising pain can give agency over it. Sometimes, simply being willing to listen or be there is enough. Acknowledge the presence of hardship. Say that you can see they might be having a rough time, and ask to hear about it. Listen to them.
Hardship is typically so because it erodes what were otherwise fundamental certainties in our life. Provide certainty, whether around their place in an organisation, or theirs or the organisation’s values. A fixed frame of reference helps define a problem and its solution. Our brains like certainty.
Take small steps:
Small things can mean a large amount. Ask what you can do to help. You don’t need to tear down the structures of society in aid to them. Sometimes, making someone a cup of tea can be the difference.
Don’t be something you’re not. Empathy calls on you to express your humanity, not fabricate it. Ask how you might want to be dealt with in that situation. Act on that.
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