#85 - Empathy: How it Can Make or Break Your Team with Susan Brady

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In this conversation with Susan Brady, author of “Arrive andThrive,” we discuss the importance of empathy and other essential skills for personal growth and success as a leader.

Empathy: A Fundamental Quality for Leadership

Empathy is a crucial quality for leaders to possess, as it enables them to connect with themselves and others in a healthy and meaningful way. Unfortunately, many leaders are hard on themselves and critical of their own abilities, which can prevent them from giving themselves the same compassion and empathy that they may give to others. Additionally, leaders who lack empathy may struggle to connect with others, making it difficult to build strong relationships.

The Importance of Empathy in Today's World

The importance of empathy has grown in recent years due to a number of converging factors that are causing stress for leaders at all levels. These include the post-pandemic future, a mental health crisis, demands for inclusion and equity ,a divisive political climate, and economic uncertainty. These challenges are more complex and interconnected than ever before, making it essential for leaders to have teams that can work together to solve them.

Creating a Culture of Inclusion and Safety

Empathy also plays a critical role in creating a culture of inclusion and psychological safety within organizations. Without empathy, leaders may struggle to create an environment where people feel safe to share their thoughts and ideas. In this way, empathy is essential for creating a sense of belonging and inclusion within teams.

Challenges to Empathy in the Workplace

Despite its importance, many leaders struggle to show empathy in their workplace. This is often because they are rewarded for getting things done, hitting goals, and maximizing their time. These rewards can create a tension between being empathic and achieving success. Additionally, leaders may struggle with empathy because they are too hard on themselves, and they don't give themselves the same compassion and empathy that they might give others.

Striking a Balance

In order to be successful as a leader, it is essential to strike a balance between achieving goals and being empathic. This is not an easy task, but it is possible. To start, leaders should work on developing their empathy by practicing self-compassion and actively listening to others. They should also be mindful of the impact their actions have on others and strive to create an inclusive and safe environment for their team members.

Leading from Your Best Self

The journey towards self-improvement and personal growth is one that is constantly evolving. In her book, "Arrive and Thrive" author Susan Brady emphasizes the importance of leading from one's best self. This means utilizing our strengths and talents to add value in a way that brings us joy and vitality. Susan believes that it is crucial for individuals to understand their best selves and to pay attention to how this changes over time and in different contexts. She encourages taking care of ourselves and surrounding ourselves with environments where we feel valued and respected. This is not a one-time pursuit, but rather a moment-to-moment practice that requires effort and dedication.

The seven practices outlined in Susan's book were developed through interviews with 24 sitting C-level executives, most of whom were women. Susan collaborated with her co-authors Janet Foutty and Lynn Perry Wooten to draw upon their combined 85 years of scholarship, field research, and evidence-based leadership work. The themes that emerged organically included investing in one's best self, cultivating courage, and more.

Susan stresses the importance of courage, noting that it is often missing in companies and politics. She learned that courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the presence of vulnerability and the willingness to take risks. Ina world where leaders are expected to have all the answers, it is important to remember that vulnerability and taking risks are essential for growth and success.

In conclusion, the journey towards self-improvement and personal growth is a constant evolution that requires self-awareness, dedication, and effort. By investing in our best selves, cultivating courage, and surrounding ourselves with environments that support our growth, we can achieve success in both our professional and personal lives.

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