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The world is complex.  Through pandemics, quarantines, remote working and internet fails, it is even more complex. The pace is unbelievable. It’s hard enough as a leader to stay focused yourself let alone keep your team aligned. Even in a virtual world, leadership, at its core, is about people connecting with people. Fostering an environment of heart-centered communication among your team is key to realizing better performance and improved engagement especially when leading in a virtual environment. Empathy helps you accomplish this.

When in doubt, choose empathy. 

Research continues to indicate that leaders who can express empathy and compassion to their employees especially when working in a virtual environment are key to enhancing employee engagement which leads to higher morale, and productivity. The‌ ‌more‌ ‌you‌ ‌create‌ ‌that‌ ‌turned‌ ‌on‌, ‌tuned‌ ‌in‌, ‌highly‌ ‌engaged‌ ‌team,‌ ‌the‌ ‌more‌ successful‌ ‌everyone’s‌ ‌gonna‌ ‌be‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌end.‌

As we are all settling in a bit with working in a virtual environment,  it is important that leaders stay diligent and not become complacent or apathetic to the struggles that many of their employees might still be experiencing. Practicing empathy is not easy. You have set aside judgment and your own point of view then attempt to understand theirs. This is a daily battle as we are bombarded with opportunities to choose empathy. 

In my executive coaching practice, I find that my more introverted clients are sharing with me that they enjoy working remotely but I caution them to be sensitive to their more extroverted employees who need to connect with their leader and the rest of their team on a frequent basis. Be intentional to connect with your team by having scheduled time with each of them. Create opportunities for your whole team to connect too. Community is important during challenging times.


Here’s what to do: 

Have regular one on ones with each direct report and ask them these questions:

What is working?

What is not working?

What do you need most from me?

Share what you need most from them.


During the conversation, remember to practice empathetic responding – you never have to agree with the person but just share or understand their feelings.

Stepping into any leadership position takes courage, motivation, and a healthy measure of emotional intelligence. It requires expanding your capacity to lead with empathy and authenticity.  When in doubt, choose empathy.


3 Communication Mistakes that Destroy Trust LINK

Empathy Always Podcast LINK

10 Questions to Help Overcome Obstacles and Strengthen Emotional Resilience LINK


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