She was someone I tremendously enjoyed working with. Her vision was second to none, focusing her attention on what mattered for the day and demonstrating uncanny insight into the future. She had a flair for recognizing and enhancing the strengths of her staff, and she had a strategic way of supporting them through their weaknesses. Her exemplary field knowledge and technical skills were reflected daily in her work. Her approach was ethical, truthful, respectful and fair.
When speaking with her, I knew that she was listening and that she genuinely cared about what I had to say. If my idea or point of view differed from what she thought, she asked questions, wanting to learn more about my ideas and perspective. Many times we looked at what was common to each of our concepts and found a way to strengthen that, while implementing a balance of what else was left to consider. Regardless of her busy schedule, there wasn’t a time where I felt dismissed or irrelevant.
I noticed that if a staff member was having difficulty with a task or experiencing some sort of challenge, she was not judgmental or critical. Rather, she made a point to understand what they were going through. She placed herself in their shoes. She was empathetic.
In my opinion, empathy is a vital ingredient for successful leadership.
An empathetic leader will….
• Be sensitive to the need for flexibility and they will be able to adapt. Situations arise and work plans may be affected. An empathetic leader will be able to modify the plan and adjust.
• Exhibit confidence. They know who they are and think beyond themselves and their own concerns.
• Take responsibility and not blame others for their weakness or mistakes.
• Demonstrate value for their staff and give them opportunities to learn and grow, thereby developing the next generation of leaders
• Have self awareness, realizing how their body language and communication can impact others
• Embrace diversity and inclusion and understand the needs of others
• Continue to learn from each day’s experience.