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I realized, again, last week that there are at least 2 ways of doing anything. There is the correct way and the "other" way. I also realized that the correct way requires a lot of things to go right. Sometimes one event can trigger a chain reaction that derails even the best laid plans.
All that is a known fact though. Something else that is universally known is the idea of leadership that asks its followers to walk in someone else's shoes. Sadly, with the speed at which the world goes around, it is hard to do that. Hard but not impossible. Empathy can, sometimes, positively impact adversity, but we get so bogged down by making things happen that we forget the most basic of all our virtues - that of being human.
As leaders, both at work and home, it is easy to tell people what, when and how to accomplish something. Personally, I do not think that is leadership at all. Engaging people, helping them understand and grow and working within a framework where we realize human limitations seem more like leadership to me.
For an instance, we can keep forcing our son to walk and run and do math or start talking in well structured sentences. I think all we will mostly get, out of this brand of "leadership", is failure and frustration. On the other hand, if we help our son grow but allow him to take his time to get to the ultimate goal of acquiring knowledge, I think both of us will end up learning and being better at whatever we want to achieve.
At work too, if we can cultivate an appreciation of empathy and understanding towards our peers, and create a framework where constant and continuous learning and improvement happens, the rewards could be far better and deeper than projects finishing on time.
Here are a few things I am thinking of incorporating better in my life:
- At least for a week in a year, we must do something at work that has nothing to do with our job.
- Instead of waiting for someone to finish talking so we can talk we MUST, genuinely, listen.
- Let us NEVER compare one person with another. We can never have a complete understanding of someone's life.
- Let us appreciate the fact that people make a lot of sacrifices to do what they do.
- Let us realize that a team, professional or familial, is of people. Everything else is secondary.
- Let us have and exercise patience. Greatness is never achieved over night.
Do you think empathy has a place in today's leadership?