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We are currently living in uncertain times and none of us has clear expectations of what is going to happen post the COVID-19 crisis and how it will affect the different aspects of our lives. Many of us are experiencing feelings of anxiety and insecurity due to the possibility of losing our jobs. Did you know that job insecurity has been linked to several health issues and is actually associated with psychological symptoms such as loss of self-esteem, anxiety, social dysfunction and depression? As a successful leader, you should be able to understand the high importance of having empathy in those tough times. Empathy is defined as ones ability to understand someone else’s feelings or experience them by imagining how it would feel to be in that person’s situation.
Empathy has always been considered to be of the most important traits of a successful leader, and it is now more important than ever. Keep in mind that your employees might be working from the home for the first time, facing financial problems or juggling childcare and homeschooling all at the same time. Let’s dive deep into the different aspects of empathy and what it means to be an empathetic leader.
The first and most important aspect of empathy is Communication. You need to communicate with your employees regularly. Be a good listener, and pay attention to the words and emotions of your employees. Transparency is also very critical at this point. You have to be transparent with your employees by keeping them up to date with every decision or plan that might take place according to the current circumstances -even if those decisions will impact them negatively. Your people have the right to know what will happen to their careers so they can start planning their moves ahead of time.
Empathy is also about being Considerate. Working from home might be new to many of your employees and it can be challenging due to certain limitations relevant to their work stations at home. Always remember that work-life balance lines are blurred when working from home, and many employees (especially the ones who are new to working remotely) might actually struggle to keep healthy boundaries between both professional and personal lives. Be clear and realistic about your “work from home” expectations and make sure that you align your team around those expectations in their new work environments.
Learning to work in new ways is key to success during the Coronavirus crisis. Virtual work can seem to be challenging at first but it can be learned and mastered. With the many video conferencing and task management tools on the market, you can view this current situation as an opportunity to learn and adopt new ways of work. Even when the COVID-19 crisis is over and we’re all back to our normal lives at the office, we will go back with a set of new tools that can make our work days more efficient.