Do you practice Organizational Empathy?

I was reminded the other day about the first time I was hired to speak professionally. I was driving with my husband Randall to the Berkeley Yacht Club. We passed a tall shiny high-rise tucked between the Bay Bridge and the freeway. I mentioned casually, “That building is where I did my first professional speaking gig. Up on one of the highest floors is a stunning view of the San Francisco Bay.” The event seemed like a lifetime ago and made me think about that first presentation. All the rhetoric of “you are the product” and “personal value proposition statements” and my favorite “every decision made about you and your opportunities is made in a room that you’re not in” had not been developed. They were glimmers of ideas. What did I talk about? What did I share with a room of women looking to get some practical advice and a little inspiration along the way?

I addressed the idea of “Organizational Empathy.” I shared that when I disagree or get frustrated with someone, I pause for a second to consider: What if I walked in his shoes? Would I react to this situation differently?

My argument with that group of women, up in the high rise, long ago was the idea that we all should look at things from all perspectives. And if you’re empathetic to someone else’s view of the situation, someone else’s perception, then maybe you can find that bridge to collaboration and mutual success.

This memory had me thinking again about the whole idea of Organizational Empathy. What was it I was really trying to say? Where did it come from? And if this was a part of who I was, where might it fit within my current rhetoric.

I’ve been mulling this question for a while and, in a recent workshop, the light bulb turned on.

I was leading a “You are the product” for Leading Women In Technology’s WilPower Program. We were discussing the need for authenticity and boldness in how we talk about ourselves. One participant commented that my personal style was very bold (no surprise there) and being that forward would be inauthentic to her. This kicked off a conversation about the need for varieties of style. Using a fitness trainer as an analogy, I asked the room if they preferred the screaming and pushing Navy Seal-type fitness instructor or the gentle and calming Yoga-type fitness instructor. Interestingly, the room was divided 50/50 in their choice. I suggested that if you wanted to be fit, then an exercise regime that included both types of fitness would develop a healthier you. We took this analogy and suggested that leadership style, while maybe not quite as dramatic, needed a variance as well.

Since that conversation, I’ve been thinking about balance in teams and organizations. So much so, that I’ve put together a five-part series about the topic. I’ve plenty to share!

If you missed it, you can catch Part I How can you be courageous so you can be brave? on this blog. Stay tuned for the next article where I’ll discuss balance in teams and collaboration, not competition.

Until next time.

Be Curious: What We’re Reading

We are voracious readers at The Amplify Lab. We've chosen a couple of articles that really opened our eyes to some new and amazing ideas and made us think outside the box, beyond our knowledge sphere.

"Understanding Your Gaps: Why Some People Succeed and Others Don't" by Lolly Daskal in Inc. Within each of us are two competing sides, a polarity of character. Only one leads to greatness.

"How To Create Change When You're Not In Charge" by Chris Cancialosi in Forbes. No matter how small or large, change is, at its core, a people process, and it’s possible to create change no matter where you sit.

Looking at the whole and not just the role

How can you be courageous so you can be brave?