When people are scared or unsure, they run back to what they know. And that’s what some leaders are doing in today’s post-pandemic workplace. And it’s pissing me off.
I read this article the other day and had….opinions.
Today, as the pandemic fades and a recession looms, employers are back to their old ways — reacting to market conditions, sometimes haphazardly and sometimes without much compassion.
Being an empathetic leader does not mean you have to be “the cool parent” or that you need to fix things. (TWEET THIS!)
As the article states, “Managers need to be empathetic…but they must also provide workers with guidance and direction and not shield them from economic realities.”
First, it’s dead on that the Pandemic forced leaders and companies to find humanity. We were in/are in a global crisis. All we have is our humanity. People’s lives were turned upside down. Of course, we turned to compassionate leadership. To empathy. We HAD to.
But this was not a new trend that just popped up. The signs all pointed to a new model of leadership before anyone ever heard about herd immunity. Study after study showed that the Industrial Revolution models of leadership were having less of an effect. That worker’s desires, combined with technology and transparency, demanded a new leadership model: One based on collaboration and connection. A more human workplace. And the rewards? HUGE. Increased productivity, engagement, retention, top talent attraction, morale, innovation, performance, and customer satisfaction The data existed way before COVID began.
The pandemic just accelerated the need to adopt these new models. There was no other way forward but to adapt.
Now that we are coming out of the pandemic, though, there’s backlash. Back to bossism. Command and control. As if, “They had their fun being treated like human beings but now it’s back to work.”
Second, only leaders who don’t understand what is truly meant by empathy hold this position. Your fear and inability to adapt are showing.
Empathy is not about caving into crazy demands, letting workers do whatever they want to do, or being okay with slipping performance. It’s about listening, getting curious, sitting with someone’s struggle or perspective, and finding a way forward.
Where do people get this stuff? Why do they empathetic leadership as either/or when it’s BOTH/AND? This is what I’ve dedicated myself to sharing, teaching, and inspiring.
Leaders who adopt HEALTHY empathetic habits with their teams can still expect high performance, set boundaries, and avoid burnout. They can just do so IF they have the right tools to embrace empathy in a healthy way (SNEAK PEEK: This is what my new book will be about.)
If you are not, you are not practicing empathy – call it something else!