What the CEO of Microsoft Pursues that Average Leaders Neglect
The difference between average leaders and exceptional leadership is heart.
Heartless leaders are deformed beasts that excuse abuse in the name of results.
Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, pursues empathy.
His pursuit is explained by a simple question. “… is there a growing sense of empathy for the people around me?” (Bloomberg)
You normally evaluate leadership with questions about skills and results. But I wonder if you’re asking yourself, “How am I showing and growing in empathy?”
Satya hopes the take away for readers of his book, “Hit Refresh,” is, “… the power of taking everyday action driven by empathy.”
Empathy begins by seeing the world through the lens of others and feeling the world through the emotion of others.
Lead with empathy and courage.
Courageous-empathy solves challenges by shining a light into dark closets and accepting whatever nasty creature scurries out. Cowardice turns from uncomfortable challenges. But courageous-empathy turns toward discomfort.
Empathy is the soul of courage.
Turning toward discomfort isn’t about loving pain. It’s passion for people. Courageous-empathy drives the desire to make something better.
Courageous-empathy sees an issue and asks, “What can we do about this?”
- Courage without empathy is brutality.
- Courage with empathy inspires and energizes.
2 ways to develop empathy:
#1. Welcome the darkness.
Life teaches you empathy when you open your heart to difficulty, distress, and adversity.
Suffering softens hard edges into channels of service.
Satya said, “I wouldn’t claim … any innate capability of empathy that I was born with. If anything, it is life that has taught me.”
#2. Stop asking why. Start asking who.
“Why is this happening to me,” is a search for fairness. But when you ask, “Who is this adversity calling me to become,” you rise up.
In order to matter you must bring your best self to the world.
What is empathy?
If you showed up with empathy, what would be true of you?
What is empathy?
“Webster’s dictionary states” the ability to share in another’s emotions, thoughts, or feelings.
So we are connecting with our surroundings through our fellow people we journey with, sharing our good and bad views, perhaps correcting the bad along the way when someone else takes us through their eyes and mind to enhance our views.
If you showed up with empathy, what would be true of you? My heart gets in the way of my Brain. We have to let the heart go with some decisions.
By the way, I did read “Satya’s” book, “Hit Refresh” excellent read, full of his life’s lessons and struggles!
Thanks Tim. I caught a couple videos of Satya and was very impressed. His focus on empathy blows me away.
Showing up with empathy would make me pretty unique among my peers. Then again, sharing the emotions around me, the frustration, antipathy, anger, distain and contempt would probably drive me out of the office after a fast five minutes!
Thanks Mitch. I have to say that some of the most successful leaders I know have big hearts. YOu don’t have to be a jerk to be successful. However, some organizations reward jerk-holes. As a result they are full of jerk-holes.
“Who is this adversity calling me to become,” you rise up…. that will keep spinning in my head for a while. Thanks for the challenge.
Thanks Pat. This is a major shift. I find it uncomfortable. I prefer to wallow, blame, or make excuses. It’s just easier. 🙂
Showing up with empathy strengthens my team and allows others to show up with empathy too. Empathy makes for a healthier culture and increased productivity. Empathy helps at home too!!
Thanks Janet. Empathy also fuels innovation. When you feel the pain of a customer you are more likely to find a solution.
Working in emergency service we are taught the true difference of compassion and empathy. Compassion you care you understand you feel for the person. Empathy is rare if you have not been right there yourself, is it empathy? I can hurt and be upset for a Mom whose baby just died but can I truly show or feel empathy? Now as a leader I can show empathy in the work environment because there are few things that I have not been on the receiving end. When an employee wants to talk about their teenager making their life hard? I am so right there, been there, done that but can I truly understand the lose of a child if I have not felt it myself? Compassion vs Empathy?
Thanks Walt. I have a few ideas about the difference between empathy and sympathy, but the waters are muddy.
Is it possible to empathize without knowing the full extent of the pain? My gut says yes. But we should be careful to acknowledge our lack. In other words, you might know the pain of losing a loved one, you might not know the pain of losing a child. But you do know a little of their pain.
I wonder if empathy is staying open to the pain or joy of others, even though we don’t fully understand?
Good points, maybe those in emergency service use it as a defense mechanism? Since we see so much pain we try to not let it be personal. We care but do we want to let ourselves hurt that much every day? PTS(D) is an issue for my employees and as a leader its my job to protect them. I have seen it destroy good employees. You mention empathy vs sympathy. hmm how much difference is there between sympathy and compassion? Will be adding “hit refresh” to my reading list. Thanks for getting my mind and heart talking to each other.
Yes, I see the value of emotional detachment. I asked the pilot of the Life Flight helicopter who flew me to the trauma center about cases he had flown. He said he ignores what’s going on in the back of the aircraft. He has one job – get to the trauma center as quickly and safely as possible. It doesn’t matter what’s happening in the back.
Showing up with empathy means suspending judgement.
I think traditionally the idea of having empathy would be seen as unorthodox and ‘weak’ in some circles. But I think as we continue to evolve in organizational cultures, it’s being seen as more of an asset/tool to help with understanding how a culture is functioning. Thats I why believe it’s admirable to take on stretch goals and assignments because there’s a good chance you are displaying courage with empathy. Great post!
I love this..learning to step out in the uncomfortable to be more courageous and empathetic. Empathy isn’t hard for me its when it is abused and learning to speak truth amidst the emotions. Thank you Dan, for keeping it real
The first sentence captured my full attention, and I believe it wholeheartedly. As soon as a leader with heart steps through the door, somehow everyone notices. Your subordinates know when you don’t have the “heart,” or you have no pride in your work or leading them. Empathy is the ability to feel, connect, or understand what another person feels. For me allows me to connect to the people around me and their willingness to open up. Empathy has been a plus as a leader because it has allowed me to connect, groom and help subordinates in my organization.