The Path From Empathy to Accountability

The ability to manage schedules, operate machines, or take someone’s temperature has nothing to do with leading.

The challenges of leadership are human, not technical.

Highly skilled people get promoted to leadership because we confuse leading with technical skill.

Leading is about connecting with people.

The path to connection requires empathy.

Empathy creates relationships that deliver results, if you move from empathy to accountability.

The path from empathy to accountability:

  1. Express empathy. (How to Express Empathy Like a Leader)
  2. Avoid advice-giving when emotion is hot. Advice-giving is the opposite of staying present.
  3. Seek confirmation. “Do you feel I’m understanding you?”
  4. Turn to the future AFTER people feel understood. “How might you move forward?” If someone feels angry, what would they like to do about it? (Generate three options.)
  5. What would you like to try? (Choose an option from step #4.)
  6. Be available. “How might I help?”
  7. Establish accountability. “Let’s touch base next week to see how things progress.”

4 empathy insights:

#1. The ability to express empathy begins when you stop evaluating the emotions of others.

Empathy describes emotion. It doesn’t judge it. Empathy says, “This must be frustrating. Am I on target with that?”

Empathy doesn’t say, “You shouldn’t feel that way.”

#2. Stop trampling people with advice.

Advising isn’t empathy. But empathy enables people to consider advice.

You devalue people when you rush to give advice. Your quick brain “knows” the answer before their first sentence ends.

“There is zero correlation between IQ and emotional empathy… They’re controlled by different parts of the brain.” Daniel Goleman

#3. Connection begins AS people feel understood.

People fight to feel understood. Issues are resolved AFTER people feel understood.

You can’t bring out someone’s best until they feel understood.

#4. Explore values

Strong emotion reveals values.

Ask, “What’s important to you about this?”

Don’t ask, “Why do you care?” Why-questions carry a hint of judgement.

What are the potential pitfalls of expressing empathy?

How might leaders move from empathy to accountability?