Showing empathy every day (or "Supporting others through choppy seas")

Updated: Dec 10, 2020

I watched Simon Sinek’s video “Most Leaders Don't Even Know the Game They're In” and a few specific points struck me [].

I found it to be a powerful video. It succinctly set out several traits I feel we should all aspire to, as leaders, parents… as humans basically.

In the mid-section, his talk focusses on exploring a Millennials’ view of interacting with the world. I felt gives some excellent insights into some generic and, dare I say it biased or ‘lazy’, views many leaders and managers exhibit and indeed vocalise.

However, he deftly pivoted towards the end and said: “If there is an entire generation struggling, maybe it is not them ... [stage whisper] maybe it’s you.”.

I took away these following leadership points, personally.

First quote to remember: “When we are a leader, our job is to take care of those in our charge, not to be ‘in charge’. ”

This requires us to focus on our own, personal transition from “doing the job” to “leading those responsible for those doing the job” – this is different from being a “manager who micromanages the team” because they used to do the job.

One eye opener story was about a barista. He had told Simon how he had two concurrent barista jobs and interacted with customers with totally different attitudes in each. This was because of the differences in the culture of the managers/leadership – I’ll not transcribe it here, it’s better when voiced by Simon.

Second quote to remember: “Joy comes from this [gestures to the audience]… It comes from human interactions. We are social animals, and we need it.”

This can only best via attentive conversations, face to face (video or otherwise), focussed interactions. Be honest with yourself, and those colleagues and be really, really present in the interactions: we have a visceral need for this as the social beings we are.

Third quote to remember: “They [Millennials] are not ‘entitled’, they are impatient… they grew up in a world of instant gratification.”

There is a fair bit of content before and after the above quotes. There an interim conclusion that it is even harder for Millennials, as opposed to other generations, to succeed in the working conditions that have been built up over time. Arguably built with an outdated concept of maximising share holder value.

A great analogy he uses: “[Maximising shareholder value] is like the coach of a football team prioritising the needs of the fans over those of the team". An “Outdated” concept, perhaps, because what worked in the boom years of peaceful, maybe slower, times is not working well enough in the new environment we have been in for the last 5-10 years.

So, I’ll close with a daily self-awareness challenge, which I will also be checking myself against:

“How have I helped [someone who is important to you] be at their natural best, today?”

This is a real, workable example of showing empathy and making our workplaces, and our general communities, a continuously better place.