At its core, business is simply humans helping other humans. And, as human beings, we naturally want to be around people who understand us – our dreams, our needs, our desires, our fears – whether we’re at work or at home. When we find people who truly get us at work, we bring more of our full selves to what we do, unleash our potential, and truly thrive. This is where the magic happens!

How can you, as a leader, unlock this magic?

It all starts with belonging.

Here’s what can happen when the people on your team feel like they belong:

  • They bring their full selves to work and contribute their unique gifts.
  • They feel safe sharing their diverse perspectives and experiences, so each person learns more.
  • They feel safe taking more risks, fostering higher levels of innovation and creative problem solving.
  • They feel more socially connected and valued for who they are, leading to higher levels of self-esteem and overall well-being.
  • When people feel better, they do better, producing more accurate results and higher quality work.
  • They bounce back from mistakes faster and navigate adversity better.
  • They no longer contribute at an individual level – they contribute to the collective, heightening the team’s performance and expanding its impact.

A team of people who feel like they belong is a high performing, fully engaged team!

What’s the magic ingredient to create a sense of belonging on your team?

It’s empathy – the ability to sense other people’s thoughts and feelings and discern what they need. To practice empathy, you must orient yourself to the other person. This can be challenging because most of us automatically orient to ourselves. We get wrapped up in our own thoughts and feelings.

Here are three simple (but not easy!) ways you can use coaching skills to cultivate more empathy as a leader:

  1. Listen without judgment or interruption. Be fully present, without distractions.
  2. Orient your listening to the other person and seek to understand their world (instead of listening to the voice in your head).
  3. Get curious! Instead of making judgments or assessments, or jumping in to solve, ask questions such as, “What’s going on for you?” “How are you seeing this situation?” “How do you feel about this?” and “What do you need right now?”

Unlocking the power of empathy requires commitment and consistent practice. What’s one thing you’ll commit to doing, starting today, to cultivate more empathy as a leader?

We’re excited to see what’s possible for you, your team, and your organization when you make a conscious commitment to practice empathy!

See you in the DOP,