Servant Leaders Embrace Empathy as a Responsibility

heart of lightEmpathy. You’ve felt it…how it opens your heart and pulls forth emotion. How it creates a strong bond and strengthens understanding between the people communicating.

The definition of empathy is the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts or attitudes of another. For some, this skill comes naturally while others must work to develop it.

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A FACTORY LIKE NO OTHER

Jean-François Zobrist

One of our favorite Quantum Heroes is Jean-Francois Zobrist, CEO of FAVI, a highly successful, 600-person French auto components manufacturer. Zobrist not only guided the transformation of FAVI through 30 years of quantum leadership, but has also become a highly effective evangelist for what he calls “managing with confidence.” When Zobrist talks about confidence, he’s referring not to self-confidence, but confidence in his people. His book, FAVI: The Company That Believes That People Are Good, explains his underlying philosophy:

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WHICH COMES FIRST – CULTURE OR BRAND?

ChickenLike the proverbial chicken and the egg, it’s impossible to put brand and culture in a linear order.

And that makes perfect sense. Because they are not separate, discrete entities – they are one and the same.  In today’s connected world, culture and brand are mirror reflections of each other.

Brand is truth

Your brand isn’t just a logo or an advertising campaign – things that can be seen and touched. And it isn’t a one-way story that you direct and control from the inside out.  Brand is truth. It’s a promise, an inspiration, a powerful motivator and a source of pride. And that truth evolves from the full experience your stakeholders – most especially your own people – have with your organization.

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The Incredible Elastic Brain

elastic brainChange is inevitable, but also hard. We tend to get comfortable with the way things are and resist new things that require effort or challenge us. As business leaders, we know we must change to stay relevant. So why do we brace ourselves against change rather than embracing it?

Many of us think we can’t change, or at least not in any significant way. We might argue that, “We always do it this way” as we cling to our organization’s traditions. But science shows us that we are actually built for change.

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It’s Servant, Not Subservient

servant leadership qualitiesWhat comes to mind when you hear the term ‘servant leader’? A pushover boss? Someone who can’t make the tough decisions? Well, think again. The Robert K. Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership, a nationally recognized non-profit leadership development organization, defines it as “a philosophy and set of practices that enriches the lives of individuals, builds better organizations, and ultimately creates a more just and caring world.”  Greenleaf, who coined the term in his highly regarded 1970 essay entitled “The Servant Leader,” spent a lifetime exploring, defining and teaching the approach.

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Deep Breath In…

YogaWhen you hear about companies that have yoga classes or mindfulness training, does it sound like a luxury? Sure, Google can afford meditation and massage for their employees, but what about the rest of us? When you’re busy grappling with the cost increases for traditional benefits like health insurance, it can be hard to imagine adding programs like these. Numerous studies show, however, that investing in employee well-being pays off in tangible ways.

Offering more progressive forms of employee well-being programs is an investment that delivers hard returns (And you’ll see those health insurance costs go down, too!) That’s why, beginning in 2010, Aetna, one of the largest healthcare benefits companies in the US, implemented mindfulness and yoga programs for its own employees. How people feel at work influences how well they work.  Directly experiencing that you genuinely value their wellbeing will have a measurable effect on their engagement.

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Help Your Culture Help You

Today, you are faced with challenges that yesterday’s business leaders could never have imagined. A tumultuous, rapidly changing global economy, a networked market and workforce, and a frequently shrinking margin all add up to more complexity and uncertainty in the world of business. And there’s no point in just riding out the storm. Things are only going to get more complicated and less predictable in the future. The old top-down, control-oriented ways of the past century just aren’t cutting it anymore. For your company to survive, let alone thrive, you must find new ways to engage your people and your customers.

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Great Culture Isn’t About Ping-Pong

When Google was named “Best Place to Work” again by Fortune Magazine, no one was surprised. The company has a reputation for treating employees to everything from massages to free vending machines. They have a sexy brand. It’s thought of as a colorful, fun place to work. However, research revealed that, far and above everything else, Google employees most value and appreciate the trust they feel in their leadership. They rated the Google culture “great” not because of the fun perks, but because of open, real-time communication, an authentic mission and trustworthy management.

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That Is So Last Century

Are you running a 21st century business with 20th century practices? According to a 2012 Towers-Watson Global Workforce Study, most business leaders are.

Moving into the 21st century isn’t just about implementing the newest technology. From our perspective, it’s also about becoming quantum. Literally, shifting from behavior based on Newtonian physics (classical mechanical physics based on Sir Isaac Newton’s laws of motion) to behavior based on quantum physics. Did you think you escaped science class when you opted for biz school?  Sorry about that.

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SHARIN’ THE LOVE PAYS OFF

In the immortal words of Elvis Presley, “Thank you. Thank you very much.”

Do you believe thanking your co-workers or showing gratitude for their work is coddling them? Many studies find that appreciation is rarely shown in the workplace, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article. It’s not being expressed between managers and subordinates, or between co-workers. The fact that you receive a paycheck is often considered thanks enough.

A recent survey on gratitude funded by the John Templeton Foundation found that 74 percent of employees never or rarely express gratitude to their boss but are eager to have a boss who expresses it to them. If their boss were more grateful, 70 percent would feel better about themselves and 81 percent say they’d work harder. Even more interesting, 94 percent of women and 96 percent of men agree that a grateful boss is more likely to be successful. And yet, we don’t do it.

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