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.
I met with a newly minted leader and long-time colleague, who is both highly collaborative and highly engaging. He cares about his people in a visceral way. I congratulated him on his promotion while warning him that there was the potential for him to fail due to a blind spot in his approach. I stated that he may fail the eat the oatmeal or like the oatmeal challenge.
Go to any office in America and you will probably hear about the childish behavior of some co-workers. Managers will express frustration that their direct reports are acting like children. The implication is that acting like a child is a problem because a child doesn’t play nice, doesn’t share, and has no initiative or accountability. This is an insult to children - since we can all learn a lot from our former selves.
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.
The steady march of globalization has brought the world’s cultures into close contact. Our thoughts, literature, and cuisines are rapidly integrating the global fabric of civilizations. This weaving of societies has promoted a greater flexibility from everyone to understand and seek to be understood. This paradigm shift crosses all industries, especially in the arena of public speaking.
Not so long ago, I had the privilege of listening in person to a conversation between journalist and author, Maria Shriver, and Krista Tippett, author and host of the radio program ‘On Being.’ This was such a rich and rewarding experience not only because I love being in the room with people who are smarter than me, but also because they simply had a great discussion. As professional questioners and listeners, they traded gem after gem on how to be in conversation with other people in ways that make everyone feel valued and as though they matter. After all, don’t we all want to feel as though we matter?
One of the biggest challenges leaders face is transforming a group into a team. A group is a collection of individuals who work separately to achieve an outcome. They typically don’t share a meaningful purpose or collective work product.
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.”
Formal coaching certification isn't necessary to be an effective Everyday Coach. Coaching is a daily activity that can contribute to the well-being of those around us who are stuck, aren’t progressing, aren’t “getting it” or simply want to improve. Understanding a few basic principles about how the brain works can help make you a better Everyday Coach.