How Does Self-Awareness Lead to Empathy?

The book is coming! September 10 is the day that The Empathy Dilemma: How Successful Leaders Balance Performance, People, and Personal Boundaries hits shelves to help leaders dedicated to people-centered practices to get the best performance possible balance the demands of the business with the needs of their people.

For the next 5 months, I’ll be devoting a monthly blog post and podcast episode on one of the 5 core pillars of EFFECTIVE empathetic leaders, outlined in the book. See, I emphasize EFFECTIVE because it’s not just about being empathetic – you have to actually perform, deliver, and get results, too. You as a leader can and must balance empathy with accountability. And today we’re going to talk about the first step to accomplish that..

This is the hurdle that gets in many a leader’s way. They think they have to CHOOSE between empathy and high performance. Compassion and ambition. Both/And, not Either/Or. Never realizing that empathy is the catalyst – when it’s actually being shown – that leads to engagement, innovation, and results.

How can leaders balance performance, people, and personal boundaries? It’s sometimes a delicate question. My new empathy book offers guidance on the healthy and productive ways leaders can deal with the unique challenges they’re facing in trying to balance it all.

What are the Five Pillars of Effective Empathetic Leadership?

These are common traits and behaviors seen over and over again in the successful empathetic leaders I interview, speak to, and advise. Even those who truly are empathetic, but don’t label themselves as such! The 5 pillars are a result of hundreds of podcast interviews, research, and data and are common threads across all those who are empathetic and high performing.

Let’s dig into the very first one: Self-Awareness.

What do I mean by self-awareness? Understanding your own strengths, blind spots, emotions, leadership style, and triggers. And helping your team members understand theirs. 

Now, you might be saying to yourself, “Hang on, Maria. Isn’t it more important for me to understand my team members? Do I really have to do a bunch of woo-woo self-reflection?”

My answer: both are crucial. And self-reflection is not woo-woo; it’s a smart strategy. You need to cultivate a deep and ever-evolving understanding of your people, as well as of yourself.I t’s not about navel gazing or ego-trips, but having a very honest, clear picture of where you shine and where you fall short. 

Humility goes hand and hand with empathy so you can recognize that someone else may have a different or better perspective. And that means being real about how you show up as well so you can better connect with others. In fact, letting go of your ego and being curious enough to learn and grow is a sure sign that you are truly tapping into your empathy.

Self awareness is an important success skill for leaders because no one leads in a vacuum. 

Your style, preferences, pet peeves, needs, and strengths as a leader will influence every single interaction you have at work. And yet many leaders don’t take the time to understand themselves fully and completely. Self-awareness helps you to understand complaints and constructive feedback, know when you might need help navigating a situation, and take accountability for your actions.

So how do you become more self-aware? 

  • Request input from teammates and colleagues
  • Leverage self-assessment tools, such as the Enneagram, DISC, or Myers Briggs
  • Learn to listen deeply, 

Simple, right? Not! To better understand these strategies and become more self-aware, please check out The Empathy Dilemma for stories from leaders, and tactics to put these strategies into practice. 

These 5 pillars will transform how your team engages, performs, innovates, delivers for you and your customers.  

Enjoy special pre-sale and launch bonuses – click here now to check them out!

Check out more about the book here:

Photo Credit: Thom Holmes, Unsplash

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