No, it’s not bit coin or any other type of crypto currency. It’s something that is much older, much more universal and a whole lot more human. The currency I’m suggesting that will propel you and your organization into greatness only costs awareness and effort. The currency I’m talking about is empathy.
It’s Not About You
In our quest for results and often times self-gain, it is incredibly easy to fall into the illusion or trap that it’s all about “me” or “our business”. I believe that people and organizations that seek and strive to understand who they serve find success that others marvel at in wonder. It’s not as simple as people and organizations being self-absorbed. Sure that can be part of it. I think it often times is a result of the world and business moving so fast that it’s hard to be mindful, especially when we are in such a reactive mode most of the time due to the speed of business and external pressures. It’s also something that few are taught. If you aren’t lucky enough to have parents or mentors who help you see and understand the importance of empathy, it can be very difficult to just discover on your own.
Lack Of Understanding
I’m amazed at how many people don’t understand empathy. It seems to get confused with sympathy quite often. For those “type A achievers” they sometimes see empathy as weakness. Sympathy to most is “poor baby.” Empathy is about understanding and can be as simple as putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. It comes from an incredible place of strength and disciplined mindfulness. Specifically, someone has to have a level of awareness to be empathetic. Those two traits are what allow sports teams to win championships. I can’t find anything remotely weak about that. Not easy to do. Done right, it requires an incredible level of awareness and the desire to truly understand someone else’s belief system that is different than yours. That goes for your customers as well as the people in your organization.
Connecting The Dots
Unfortunately, you can’t just order or will your people to show empathy. It has to show up in every part of your organization’s culture. Here are a few things to consider:
- Do your company values send the message that empathy really matters?
- Do you encourage or teach your leaders that empathy is important?
- Do you attempt to get a sense of someone’s understanding or level of empathy when interviewing?
- Do your leaders attempt to coach others when empathy appears to be lacking?
- Are you willing to liberate those who don’t “get it” from your organization so they can be successful somewhere else?
Please don’t treat empathy as another competency. It’s bigger and more important than that. Your people need to understand it and more importantly believe it and feel it for it to take hold. As the competitive landscape only gets tougher to earn new customers and attract real rock stars in the talent war, empathy could be the difference between your organization being viewed as a “have” or “have not”.