Empathy, engagement: The ‘secret sauce’ for post-pandemic leadership success

October 7, 2022

It would be an understatement to say that the devastating spread of COVID-19—and industry’s collective reaction thereto—has prompted a seismic shift in how corporations intend to operate in the post-pandemic era. One particularly notable pivot is that toward staff empathy and engagement. This profound cultural shift requires business leadership at all levels—from C-suite executives, division and department heads and team leaders, to entrepreneurs of every ilk—to level up and evolve their managerial skillsets to meet new occupational expectations.

A new way of thinking from an old pro

Professional training purveyor Dale Carnegie—which is famed for helping professionals develop the kind of leadership and communication skills that inspire and motivate others over the course of 100 years—has assessed and addressed this burgeoning need and demand. In fact, executives throughout this iconic leadership and development company help employers worldwide become more compassionate, engaging with staff and celebratory of workforce successes—both individually and as a group. By proactively improving such practices, the end game is to establish more welcoming, tolerant, enjoyable and rewarding places to work.

Amid these new and ever-fluid dynamics, numerous Dale Carnegie executives have unsurprisingly indicated that companies have approached them for training on new ways to adapt their workplace cultures, to become more attuned to employee needs and more engaged in general.

This unquestionably includes managers at all levels being accessible and proactive, by taking the time and effort to carve out more one-on-one time with team members to listen, learn, commiserate and congratulate. This can include going out to lunch or conversing via phone call or video chat.

Emotional vs. rational

Lead From The Heart author Mark C. Crowley follows emerging science to support the idea that human beings are not as rational as we’ve always believed. “Up to 95% of the decisions we make every day are driven by feelings and emotions,” said Crowley. “That means employee engagement is a decision made by the heart—and managers who want to drive the greatest loyalty, commitment and productivity need to intentionally focus on how their employees feel.”

Good mental health

A Better Business Bureau bulletin, which was distributed amid August’s National Wellness Month, indicated the need for employers to implement practices that support a positive workplace mental-health culture. The bulletin emphasizes, “taking the time to connect,” and cites a Harvard Business Review report that stresses that “a culture of connection is key.” It further underscored the importance of stepping up manager training to better equip office leaders to navigate sensitive conversations, build trust and create authentic staff relationships. Another notable statement in the BBB report promoted the importance of work-life balance and cited findings from The Happiness Index, a platform dedicated to happiness and engagement in the workplace. It underscored how “maintaining a healthy work-life balance can enrich health and relationships, improve productivity and performance and minimize burnout.”

Right now, leaders and staffers need to have the kind of discussion that will help them mutually reassess, review and realign. Specifically, reassessing job roles, reviewing what projects are being worked on, and realigning tasks to be linear with your business’s goals. This can result in a powerful perception—and motivational—shift as employees can realize with far more clarity on how they contribute to the overall success of the agency, while also feeding their own desire to live a purposeful life.

Merilee Kern
Ascendant Group Executive Branding & Thought Leadership

Merilee Kern, MBA, is an internationally regarded brand strategist and analyst who reports on noteworthy industry change makers, movers, shakers and innovators across all B2B and B2C categories. This includes field experts and thought-leaders, brands, products, services, destinations and events. Kern is founder, executive editor and producer of The Luxe List as well as the host of the Savvy Ventures business TV show that airs nationally on FOX Business TV and Bloomberg TV and the Savvy Living lifestyle TV show that airs in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Atlanta and other major markets on CBS, FOX and other top networks. As a prolific business and consumer trends, lifestyle and leisure industry voice of authority and tastemaker, she keeps her finger on the pulse of the marketplace in search of new and innovative must-haves and exemplary experiences at all price points, from the affordable to the extreme—also delving into the minds behind the brands. Her work reaches multi-millions worldwide via broadcast TV (her own shows and copious others on which she appears) as well as a myriad of print and online publications. Connect with her on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

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