Leading with Empathy

“There is no “I” in team…” Most of us have heard this at some point in our lives. On many levels, the saying has a lot of merit. As Leaders, the idea that no one person is bigger than the team or the idea that the goals of the team are the most important objective make a lot of sense. In reality we know, the best Leaders and Coaches find ways to ensure they get the best performance out of individuals to ensure the success of the team.

This reality has probably never been more important for Leaders than it is right now. The pandemic forced us to be more in tune with the collective needs of individuals that work in our teams. We had no alternative, team members were facing unprecedented pressures/distractions outside of work. For over two years, we have been dealing with sharing crowded workspaces with family members, becoming teachers for our children, dealing with our own illnesses, the illnesses of those we care about, social unrest, political turmoil, increased mental health challenges, and in many situations, dealing with the loss of a loved one(s). 

Whether our employees are working in an office, on a Manufacturing line, standing a post, or turning a wrench in a plant, we were forced to lead with empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. For many of us, it didn’t take long to lead with empathy. It was very easy for us to put ourselves in the shoes of our teammates, as we are experiencing the exact same pressures and distractions. I’m proud of how well our Leaders responded to these challenges, and it resulted in 86% of our Employees saying that they have trust and confidence in their direct Manager in survey responses collected last August.  

As the pandemic continues, we continue to maintain operations in locations across the country and around the world. Many are resuming more and more activities from our pre-pandemic work routine. (Relaxed Covid protocols, team meetings in person, travel, conferences, etc.) It feels good to resume some of these activities, but as Leaders we don’t want to lose sight of what made us work so effectively during the heart of the pandemic. It was the ability to lead with empathy that allowed us to maximize productivity under such difficult circumstances. In many cases, our employees lives have changed or their prospective may have shifted, and it remains critical that we continue to lead with empathy. Are we still leading with empathy? Have you asked your employee(s) what has changed? What they need to do their job more effectively?

Yes, there is no “I” in team, but if we want to achieve Day & Zimmermann’s goals, then as leaders it’s important that we foster a work environment that allows individuals to do their best work!

Dan Ross

Daniel Ross is Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer for Day & Zimmermann, a century-old, family-owned company, with $2.7 billion USD in revenue, specializing in construction & engineering, operations & maintenance, staffing, security and defense for leading corporations and governments around the world. Mr. Ross oversees all of human resources for the D&Z enterprise including talent management, talent acquisition, compensation, diversity & inclusion, labor strategy and organizational development.