Updated: Apr 22
This series of posts highlights Stratascension values and why each one is so important to not only the founder ,but to any leader that is designing a culture of trust and innovation. I wrote a post a few years ago that highlighted the importance of values in the development of a company and specifically the culture of an entity. Further, that post states," ...the values of a company are only as important as modeled by the company’s leaders on a regular basis. Where the organization presents its values for public consumption but there is a disconnect in the exhibition of those values in daily operations, then we must assume the values are not important..." Never one to not take my own advice or attempt to be the best leader I can, this posits how one can express the value of empathy in their culture.
Stratascension's values; Innovation, Excellence, Integrity, and Empathy are what set it apart from other management consulting firms and we are proud of our culture which informs how we partner with and serve our clients.
On a personal note, I'm writing this on the heels of the release of the video of the moments leading up to the death of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old father, who died in the hospital days after he was detained in a traffic stop. There is a never-ending stream of reasons why this atrocity occurred but instead of focusing on the problem (and the killing of black people by police in America has been a problem for some time), I'd like to focus on a part of the solution. By no means am I saying empathy is the solution to all the ills facing our society or our nation, but it's a great place to start. Habit 5 of Franklin Covey's, "7 Habits of Highly Effective Leader", states: Seek first to understand, then to be understood, and represents a conceptual approach to developing emotional intelligence that has serviced me well both personally and professionally.
This video does a great job of describing how to use empathy in communications.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. It involves the ability to put oneself in someone else's shoes, to understand their perspective and emotions, and to respond in a way that is appropriate and sensitive to their needs. The latter part of this definition is where I believe we fail in society and in our nation, being sensitive to the needs of others. Obviously, there's nuance involved in understanding each individual that we may have an encounter with, but having a fundamental starting point of "how can I serve this person and their needs?" is sorely lacking as an initial frame of reference. This idea that our society is lacking empathy is not new and seems to be growing.
Empathy is different from sympathy, which is the ability to feel sorry for someone else's feelings, but not necessarily to understand or share them. Empathy is an important skill because it allows people to connect with and understand others, build trust and relationships, and provide support and assistance in a meaningful way.
Empathy can be displayed in different ways, such as through verbal and non-verbal communication, active listening, perspective-taking, and emotional intelligence. It can also be practiced through mindfulness and compassion.
Empathy is not only important in personal relationships, but also in professional contexts, where it can be essential for effective communication, collaboration, and leadership. Empathetic leaders, for example, are able to understand the perspective of their team members, create a positive work environment, build trust, and increase employee engagement and performance.
In summary, empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. It is an important skill
that allows people to connect with and understand others, build trust and relationships, and provide support and assistance in a meaningful way. It can be displayed in different ways, and it is essential in both personal and professional contexts. The contribution that an empathetic person adds to society isn't always visible but in the famous words of Maya Angelou, "At the end of the day people won't remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”
8 Characteristics of an empathetic culture
As leaders, we define the culture explicitly through our documented mission, vision, and values. However, we also influence the culture tacitly through the things we don't say and the activities we allow to occur during our tenure. One could argue that the things we don't say and allow to happen are more powerful than what we've published to support an empathetic culture. To reconcile what we say and what we do, we can look at how our employees are interacting with each other through an experience survey and compare the results to cultural characteristics. An empathetic culture is characterized by several key attributes, including:
Active listening: Employees in an empathetic culture are trained and encouraged to actively listen to and understand the perspectives and needs of others.
Emotional intelligence: Employees in an empathetic culture are aware of their own emotions and the emotions of others, and are able to manage them effectively.
Compassion: Employees in an empathetic culture are compassionate and caring towards others, and are motivated to help others and make a positive impact.
Open-mindedness: Employees in an empathetic culture are open-minded and willing to consider multiple perspectives and understand the needs and perspectives of others.
Respect: Employees in an empathetic culture are respectful of others, and are sensitive to the needs and feelings of others.
Empathy-based communication: Employees in an empathetic culture communicate with others in a way that is empathetic, understanding, and respectful.
Collaboration: Employees in an empathetic culture collaborate and work together to achieve common goals, and they are willing to help and support each other.
Flexibility: Employees in an empathetic culture are flexible and adaptable to the needs of others, and they are willing to adjust their actions to meet the needs of others.
Overall, an empathetic culture is characterized by active listening, emotional intelligence, compassion, open-mindedness, respect, empathy-based communication, collaboration, and flexibility. It fosters an environment where individuals feel valued and respected and where diversity and inclusivity are embraced.
How do we exhibit empathy?
Exhibiting empathy is typically not conducted visibly. We exhibit empathy through how we interact with each other. The way we hear and respond to each other matters. In addition, the way we communicate, whether verbally or written, with each other provides a great view into how we exhibit empathy, The interchange of words between individuals that have no relation to each other or between service providers and customers represents a starting point of what empathy looks like in action. However, its the responses of those individuals to the words that gives us the greatest evidence of empathy A business solution provider can exhibit empathy in a variety of ways, such as:
Active Listening: By actively listening to customers, a business solution provider can better understand their needs, concerns, and frustrations. This can help the provider to identify and address problems more effectively.
Perspective-Taking: A business solution provider can exhibit empathy by trying to understand the customer's point of view and the context in which they are operating. This can help the provider to provide more tailored and effective solutions.
Communication: A business solution provider can exhibit empathy by communicating with customers in a way that is clear, respectful, and sensitive to their needs. This includes being responsive, providing clear explanations, and giving customers the information they need to make informed decisions.
Problem-Solving: A business solution provider can exhibit empathy by working collaboratively with customers to understand and solve their problems. This involves not only providing solutions, but also helping customers to navigate complex processes, and providing support and resources.
Emotional intelligence: A business solution provider can exhibit empathy by being aware of their own emotions and the emotions of others, and by managing them effectively. This can help the provider to build trust and rapport with customers, and to provide a more positive and supportive customer experience.
Flexibility: A business solution provider can exhibit empathy by being flexible and adaptable in response to customer needs. This can help the provider to create solutions that are tailored to the specific needs of each customer.
Responsiveness: A business solution provider can exhibit empathy by being responsive to customer inquiries and concerns, and by addressing them in a timely and appropriate manner.
In summary, leaders of solution providers can exhibit empathy by actively listening, taking perspective, communicating effectively, problem-solving, using emotional intelligence, and being flexible and responsive to customer needs. These actions can help leaders to understand and address customer needs more effectively, and to build trust that is useful in creating long-term relationships with customers.
7 General Benefits to customers
Customers of business solution providers that are empathetic can expect to receive a variety of benefits, such as:
Better understanding of their needs: Empathetic business solution providers will take the time to understand the unique needs and challenges of each customer, and to tailor their solutions accordingly.
Improved communication: Empathetic business solution providers will communicate with customers in a way that is clear, respectful, and sensitive to their needs, which can help to build trust and understanding.
More effective problem-solving: Empathetic business solution providers will work collaboratively with customers to understand and solve their problems, which can lead to more effective solutions.
Increased satisfaction: Empathetic business solution providers will provide a more positive and supportive customer experience, which can lead to increased satisfaction.
More effective support: Empathetic business solution providers will be responsive to customer inquiries and concerns, and will provide support that is tailored to the specific needs of each customer.
Long-term relationships: Empathetic business solution providers are more likely to build long-term relationships with customers, as customers are more likely to do business with providers that they trust and respect.
Better reputation: Empathetic business solution providers will have a better reputation and will be more likely to attract new customers, partners, and investors.
At Stratascension, we will choose to welcome and nurture differing perspectives and the lived experiences that produce them. The benefits of embracing and encouraging experiential and cognitive diversity outweigh the close-mindedness that goes along with looking for the same traditional experiences, backgrounds, and thinking that everyone else has been looking for.