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Leading with Feeling - 7 Questions Driving Inclusive Results


EquALLIES builds from the position that we all have the ability to create meaningful, impactful and sustainable inclusive changes, for the benefit of yourself and others. By undertaking the work to reflect on your inclusion journey will enhance your wellbeing and productivity, whilst ensuring your leadership is truly authentic. In this two part piece, we teach you how to drive change for yourSELF, using your feelings to build authenticity and empathy.

1. What is leadership?

Leadership is the ability to have others willingly follow you through change. Leadership is important because we all face change, whether the change is sustaining activity within changing circumstances (think Covid), or changing something over time (think addressing inequalities), change is our only constant. Teams change, stakeholders change, circumstances change, but the skills we need to adapt to change remain the same. Leadership is not linked to your job title or income, and applies as much to an individual leading themself to success as it does to leading others.

2. What is authentic leadership?

Authentic leadership is knowing yourself; your strengths and vulnerabilities and leading with that at all times. For example; if you know your strengths are creative, but communication is not your strongest point, emphasise your creativity and get support in comms. Use the EquALLIES diagnostic tool to define your three best strengths and consider how you can protect yourself from your weakest areas.

3. How do Feelings impact Results?

Within positive psychology, it is understood that thoughts precede feelings, which precede actions and results.

We can’t control our circumstances, but we can control how we choose to respond to them.

For example, if you enter any project thinking it will fail, you will identify barriers to success to support your thinking. This can prevent you automatically looking for solutions to meet your thought that the project will be a success. Therefore, changing your mindset can be critical to achieving results.

4. Why is Empathy crucial to Inclusive Leadership ?

It’s best to have a clear understanding of what empathy means in order to understand how it influences leadership. Empathy shouldn’t be confused with sympathy. To be sympathetic means to have feelings of understanding and caring for another’s discomfort or problem.

Empathy is the ability to understand the needs of others. It means that you’re receptive to different needs, aware of other’s feelings and understand how difference impacts perception.

Empathy does not require you to agree with other’s perceptions or feelings, but it does mean you appreciate what the other person is experiencing.

5. Why does it matter for Leaders to understand the needs of others?

It has been demonstrated time and time again that leaders who take the time to understand the needs of their employees, their suppliers, their customers, investors and communities can add value to their work. This is nothing to do with altruism, it’s the cold hard fact that unhappy stakeholders will leave, taking their skills, knowledge, experience and money with them.

Understanding others enables leaders to preempt and direct best outcomes, upskilling in the face of challenges or adapting to achieve their goals.

By building the value of relationships into everyday life, trust, honesty and integrity is built into the fabric of your contribution. Leading by example, this facilitates the relationships your stakeholders have with others, increasing collaboration and productivity.

6. How can I demonstrate empathy, particularly in difficult conversations?

Too often the talent pipeline focus on the output of communication skills in their early careers, writing reports, delivering presentations and keynotes. However, inclusive leaders who understand the benefits of diversity are exceptional listeners.

Crucially, empathetic people listen attentively to what you’re telling them, putting their complete focus on the person in front of them and not getting distracted or imposing their agenda onto the speaker. We were given two eyes to see, two ears to hear and only one mouth - which is why we suggest you spend more time listening than talking!

If people are taking the time to share their views with you, invest energy in really hearing them. Ensure you’ve understood their message by using the same vocabulary and be clear where you can and can’t support them.

EquALLIES covers the significance of deep listening in the art of communication in our Engage > Educate > Empower programme, where we demonstrate the skills you can practice over time to ensure that even in the most confrontational situations, you are able to overcome biases or preconceived notions to ensure the best outcomes are achieved for all.

By paying more attention, you can improve your empathy, the inclusivity of your setting and productivity. Please reach out for more information, including a free guide on how to improve deep listening skills.

7. How can leaders encourage a culture of empathy?

Empathy requires stakeholders to feel safe in being honest with you, which must stem from you being open, honest and accountable to them. Our recent article on the benefits of Ubuntu outlines how the perception of success for self and others is articulated differently across the globe, and is a solid base to improve our understanding of inclusion.

The cultural setting in which you create a space for safety and inclusion must be communicated clearly and consistently throughout your group in your long term goals and values as well as delivered consistently in your day to day operations.

By tying empathy and inclusion into long term goals and values, leaders who excel demonstrate that their actions are not tied solely to short term delivery, but by fulfilling a collective purpose of delivering something meaningful.

In order to achieve this, by deeply listening to your stakeholders and working collaboratively, leaders will understand the needs of those around them and curate the environment required to let others thrive.

Of course, none of this is easy. It takes time and energy if you want to measure the impact of your own journey, and of those you lead.

EquALLIES is here to support you with that journey.

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