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Have you ever had an employee who was chronically late? Did you make assumptions or create a story in your head to explain why they were always late? What would happen if you first sought to understand?

As managers, we can look at that situation and develop a plan to find answers. Ask your employee if there’s something that causes them to be late every day. Maybe they have to wait for their child’s daycare to open before they go to work. Perhaps they are caring for an ailing parent. We, as leaders, don’t know unless we ask. This is an opportunity for us to listen, learn, and empathize with not only our employees, but our future leaders.

We promote employees to leadership positions because they are good at their jobs. New leaders often develop their leadership skills through trial and error to find out what works in their workplace. The more you can seek to know and understand, the better your leadership skills will become.

While improving learned skills like communication and budgeting is great, empathy requires a different approach when working with employees. We know that empathy is one of the top three skills influential leaders need to demonstrate.

To lead with empathy, leaders must understand how their actions impact the workplace environment. Before reacting to a situation, I consider what a great leadership coach taught me, the acronym “PRC”:

  • Pause – stop before reacting immediately
  • Reflect – think about the choices you could make and the responses you should have
  • Choose – make a choice

If you take the time to PRC, you will find you will start to more naturally become a more empathetic leader. Showing employees you care about them will result in better employee engagement, loyalty, and retention.

What you take time to think before you act or start to tell yourself a story about what is going on, ask yourself, “How would I want to be treated in this situation?” When you consider PRC before reacting in the heat of the moment, people feel more supported and valued because you look at them as a whole person.

Try it, we all could become better leaders and there is nothing to lose!