Would you follow a Leaders that shows “Tough Empathy”?
Expanding on the 4 Essential Leadership Qualities that HBR authors Goffee & Jones claim are important for truly inspirational leaders, let’s take a look at the practice of “Tough Empathy”
I believe that phenomenal leaders care deeply about the people they work with.
I believe that they care about them as whole human beings – their work, their results, their personal lives, their emotional lives, their aspirations, their challenges.
I think the real difference comes in their leadership effectiveness when they are ’empathetically tough’ …
Although, maybe these days we would use a different word to tough… maybe Healthy?
The authors describe the meaning as giving people not necessarily what they want but what they need to achieve their best, to be successful, to flourish.
At its best, tough empathy balances utmost caring and respect for the individual and for the task at hand. This balance is not always easy, it can be a tough thing to do.
I have experienced first hand what it’s like to be a leader who is responsible for implementing some organisational decisions that impact my team as individuals.
As you may have experienced, in such a situation, caring leaders can sometimes fall into the trap over ‘over-caring’ and giving of themselves selflessly, only to be burnout or not achieve their own work deliverables.
Knowing how to balance true caring and empathy with knowing where the boundaries is a great leadership growth opportunity.
How do you do “tough empathy’?
I think it starts with the empathy piece.
You have to care.
When people care about something deeply, they’re motivated to find a way to fulfil that. They will show their true selves, their authenticity and integrity. So then, in tough conversations they will communicate authentically, honestly and with true positive intent.
And as a follower or collaborator, you can sense and respect that quality.
Where in your leadership do you need to express ‘tough empathy’?
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