If you were told about one thing that could improve the wellbeing of the majority of your people, would you implement it in your role as a leader? We’re guessing it’s a yes.

A study showed that this one thing helped 86% of people to better manage the demands of their work and wider life. Therefore, it must be revolutionary, or something that requires lots of work and investment? Here’s the big reveal…..

86% of people reported that they were able to navigate the demands of their work and life when they felt their leaders were more empathetic. That’s it. 

It’s quite the stat when you think about it. Drink it in. 

Leaders have the potential to make their peoples’ lives easier by just being empathetic. 

Leading with empathy

Every person you work with has their own unique life outside of work that you may know snippets about or you may know a lot about. There are times when it feels like life is flowing easily but there are times when it starts to fizz manically in our heads and stress sets in. The difference between feeling comfortable to share that with a leader to lighten the load or having to try and hide it is big

If people feel supported and able to ask for help, this has a huge impact on their day to day productivity, motivation and happiness at work – in a good way!

We re-shared an article about empathy and kindness earlier in the year and how empathy tops the list of what leaders must get rightit had a huge response. It’s no surprise that the articles and posts on LinkedIn which are more personal in nature garner tons of likes, shares and engagement. Of course, LinkedIn’s purpose is a business networking platform but doesn’t it speak volumes that the biggest engagement on there comes from when the people behind their job title and work attire share some of themselves and their stories? It’s because these posts show the human side of people and we can all relate to it.

Our working life can feel like we are sometimes pretending not to be human. We’re just a Head of Digital or a Director of Finance, and some workplaces can make us feel like we need to tone our emotions right down and the personality that we carry with us (what makes us who we are, essentially!) 

Births, fostering, promotions, deaths, diagnosis, financial issues, caring responsibilities, moving house, loss and hundreds more of these events happen to people every day. Employees can try and close the door on these when at work but they’re still there banging on the door needing attention.

What great leaders do

For a leader to actively check in with their people, asking if they’re ok and what help and support they might need is something that no business perk will replace. It’s as easy as that. 

Mental health first aiders and ensuring that employees feel safe to share any issues with their leaders are extremely beneficial to workplaces. But as a very first starting point, just making sure that empathy is displayed and is genuine is going to go a long way.

Here are five ways you can demonstrate empathy in your role as a leader:

1) Call someone every week just to see how they are doing and what they have going on

2) Always leave space at the beginning of every meeting to enquire how people are doing

3) When asking someone ‘how are you?’, dig deeper when presented with an ‘I’m fine’ response

4) Share when you’re feeling vulnerable to create psychological safety for others to do the same

5) You don’t need to solve everything, ask a great coaching question instead to help people explore something they’re feeling or struggling with.

Start with empathy and see the difference it will make, because in the words of Maya Angelou ‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’