Leading with Empathy and Human Connection in a Recovery Era
“We’re all in this together”. That is what the pandemic taught us, especially in the workplace, and to thrive, we need to carry that mindset into our “new normal”.
The Scoop, caught up with Katrina Kent, Vice President, Meeting Management and Event Strategy with Liberty Mutual Insurance, Charlie Eder, Head of Global Events and Experiential Marketing, Yahoo and Emmanuel Gotsis, Head of Global Experiential Marketing for Webex, Cisco to chat about newer skillsets that emerged during challenging times, how it transformed us as individuals and team members and how empathy is playing a larger role in both resource and client relationships.
For most of us, the pandemic turned our homes into our workspaces, mixing more of our personal lives into our work lives than before. This forced environment combination invited colleagues and clients to ask questions and connect with us on a deeper level. “You can tell a lot about people from their backgrounds”, said Gotsis. Sights and sounds in the background, which used to be seen as an unprofessional distraction, are now welcomed for complete authenticity and in some cases, comic relief. Messages are interpreted differently in a completely virtual world and it’s important to understand what’s happening with all team members for effective communication and production. Both Kent and Eder specified a technique they implemented at the beginning of each meeting which was to ask each participant what they were bringing to the table that day, in life. This included a more empathetic and human element to the meeting before jumping right into work mode. With organizations seeing employees’ workplace behaviors and preferences change, we asked these experts what skillsets have evolved, what leadership and customers will be looking for in future teams and how to set your own terms in your career path.
- Empathy and Authenticity: During our almost two years at home, we were propelled forward to expand our thought process and skill of empathy. For Eder, he states that he saw the power of diversity among his teams. Eder states that with bringing our true selves to work, this has led to more diversity and empowerment of using your voice in a different environment other than the office workplace. The skillsets of empathy and authenticity show the energy, consideration, and commitment you have to your team, project and client or customer. “Empathy spurs innovation”, said Kent. Leading with curiosity as opposed to a solution should be a new thought process when working together.
- Vulnerability: “Vulnerability was the best thing to come out of all of this,” said Gotsis. Just the simple act of being able to make mistakes and owning them has taught us more patience, which is an incredibly powerful trait to harness. Being vulnerable opens us up to more idea sharing and collaboration.
- Be open to continued new skill development: Reflect on the skills you’ve developed outside of the day-to-day needed to complete tasks. For example, learning how to better manage people or being a part of a team may be skills that weren’t as essential to your role as they are now.
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