This Leadership Skill Makes Working Virtually Better

Aug 05, 2020

Each day millions of people are working from home. How we feel about this new normal ranges from elation to disconnectedness. For most employees, however, feeling disconnected shadows elation. 51% of employees told us that they feel isolated. The world of work has been turned upside down. And we’re all working to adapt, accept, and deal with our new working arrangements.

 

The pressure and stress that comes from adapting to a dramatic change impacts morale. It even impacts our mood. For people leaders, it’s a one-two punch. You need to show up and lead your team, and at the same time, deal with your response to how we work today. (41% of managers told us their most significant challenge with working from home is loneliness.)

 

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Amidst the emotional ups-and-downs, leaders have a skill that can help make things better—empathy.

 

Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston and bestselling author, says empathy conveys a powerful message: You’re not alone. Empathy is about creating a connection with others. The skillful, empathetic leader relies on these skills.

 

Listen. Hear what employees say about their experiences in these times. Hear how they are adapting or struggling to adapt to the shift in their work arrangements.

Withhold judgment. As employees share their experiences, listen to understand. Healthy relationships are grounded in understanding without judgment. These days we need to double down on building strong relationships with our direct reports.

Encourage. Help your employees know what action to take to address their emotions. However, be mindful that action sometimes means waiting to take action. We all move at our own pace when overcoming or being with difficult emotions, like loneliness.

 

The workplace has not seen a transformation like what is happening today in a long time. It’s both alarming and exciting at the same time. The company, its leaders, and employees must all work together to change with the times successfully.

 

To help lead the transformation, you need to rely on your best leadership skills. Your skills have the most significant impact on how employees experience work. You set the tone through your daily interactions with your team. Extending empathy helps create bright spots in your company and team culture.

 

Now, it’s important to note that employees also play an essential part in navigating the changing work dynamics. They, too, need to extend empathy towards their colleagues, and, frankly, you. However, it would be best if you first modeled what you want to see.

 

 

About the Author

Shawn Murphy

Shawn is our Director of Organizational Behavior and Workplace Trends. His second book, Work Tribes is out now along with his first book, The Optimistic Workplace.

 

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