Empathy has been a hot topic. Wherever you go in the learning space—from preschool to the boardroom—teachers and leaders are stressing the importance of empathy. The growing number of millennials in the workforce have changed the emotional make up of our corporate world. They are, rightfully, pushing for greater authenticity, meaning, and transparency from the companies they work with. This renewed focus on empathy, however, falls short of its optimistic intentions.
Trust is key to any organization’s success. We all recognize its importance. We want trust in our workplace: from our co-workers, supervisors, and clients. Most people consider themselves to be great models of trust. The truth, however, is that there is a gap between that perception and reality—a gap which has proven problematic from a learning perspective.
Have you ever felt like you work in a parallel universe? Perhaps you walk into the office and immediately feel like you have stepped into a poorly scripted episode of the Twilight Zone, where there seems to be an alternate reality in which passive-aggressiveness reigns and accountability is nonexistent. If your office refrigerator is littered with handwritten signs and your company’s values are more often discussed than put into action, your company has an organizational honesty problem.
Everyone likes a good change model, especially me. I’ve been guilty of buying into the fallacy that change models perpetuate: it will all be okay. That’s what change models do: they address our emotional need for certainty or security. The models tell us (and we believe) that if we just follow the pattern – from beginning to middle to end – we’ll happily reach the finish line. But, that’s not how the world works.
I just finished reading Option B, a book that Sheryl Sandberg wrote with psychologist Adam Grant after the heartbreaking death of her husband, Dave. Together with Adam, Sheryl tells her personal story of loss and grief, offers stories from the lives of others, and shares advice on how to build resilience. The book’s title is inspired by something a family friend said to her in the aftermath of Dave’s death. In a particularly poignant passage, Sheryl shares the story of how she needed someone to fill in for Dave at a father-child activity. She cried, “But, I want Dave.” Her friend held her and said, “Option A is not available, so let’s kick the sh*t out of Option B.”