In a recent post, I shared that empathy and gratitude are two traits that every Level 5 Sales Leader must have. The BIG question then becomes, why and how do these two traits help someone become a more effective leader?
My experience as a leader suggests there is only one way to show true empathy and that is through active listening. When you fully concentrate on individuals, understanding and remembering what they said, they feel valued.
How does empathy help sales leadership?
Lynnda Pollio, an author and Empathetic Consultant helping companies build stronger and more transparent cultures, teaches how empathy can make you a better leader. She has found that by offering someone an ear gives the person an opportunity to let whatever is bottled up inside him or her spill out. By doing this, you will develop a more intimate relationship with the other person, which builds trust and respect-qualities that every good leader should have.
If trust and respect are the foundations of a relationship and ‘all you have to do’ is listen to someone to achieve this, then why do so many leaders come up short?
When is the last time you really listened to someone regardless of time, wanted to hear what they said and were in a place where all you were focused on was that person and nothing else?
As the above example illustrates, we often do not fully engage in empathy utilizing active listening for several reasons:
- Lack of time
- Lack of interest
- Too many distractions
You see why being empathetic and a strong active listener is difficult?
Wait…hold on a minute….what if I acknowledge I need more empathy and I understand active listening is the way to show this. Does this mean empathy is ALWAYS a good thing? Can you have TOO much empathy?
Marcia Reynolds, President of Covisioning LLC, has found that with empathy you will feel their stress, anxiety and anger in your body. If you let these emotions sit in your body, higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol are released and could make you more susceptible to feelings of depression or hopelessness.
Therefore, there is a line between being overly empathetic (leading to burnout) and having genuine empathy that shows you care about others. It is up to you to balance this line as a Level 5 leader for both you and your people.
What about gratitude?
Have you ever come across truly happy people? No matter what life throws at them, they come across as thankful|blessed|positive|optimistic|value driven.
Flip the script. Have you ever come across truly sad people? They come across as negative|pessimistic|skeptical|unhappy|miserable.
Who would you rather follow?
Easy answer, right? The positive