Manufacturing Excellence – Inspire, Lead, and Succeed with EMPATHY!
“I have learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
– Maya Angelou
What a great quote and so true!
I’d like to share an experience that I will never forget. Three and a half years ago at my last job I was asked to talk about the retirement savings plan at one of our employee meetings. I was a little bit nervous and this nervousness slightly increased when I saw that our American President and most of the Executive team decided to attend this meeting.
What I did not know at the time was that in the very same meeting, 20 minutes after my presentation, we were told that most of us would lose our jobs as a decision was made to move our group office from Canada to the States. Wow!
Everyone on the Executive team knew the agenda but not one single person took me aside to say “Karin, today is not the day to talk about the retirement savings plan.” They remained quiet and were all sitting in the first row observing my little speech.
I can say one thing, I will never forget how this made me feel but it was a great learning experience about how I never want to treat other people. In leadership like anywhere else, we have “do’s and don’ts” and this was certainly a “don’t”.
What does this little experience teach us about showing empathy to other people?
What does this show us about leadership?
What can we learn here about emotional intelligence?
Could it be that not one single person on the Executive team sincerely cared how people felt about the prospect of losing their jobs or did they simply feel too uncomfortable with the whole situation?
Maybe a few of them did care but the point is, NOBODY had the courage to step up and do the right thing.
Leading with empathy is crucial during good times and even more so during bad times.
Dale Carnegie, an outstanding historical authority on Leadership, spoke about the importance of showing a genuine interest in other people, showing a sincere interest in other people’s feelings.
I realize that this “touchy-feely” stuff may make some of you feel uncomfortable and you would much rather prefer not deal with it. However, if you want to be seen as a leader, if you want to help people succeed at all levels, if you are interested in having your people perform at their best, and if you want to set your legacy as a leader, you have to lead with empathy.
There is no doubt in my mind, if you care about your people, they will care about you and your company and this will result in boosting your bottom line.