Keep showing up for your team: top ways for empathetic leaders to boost their energy

Keep showing up for your team: top ways for empathetic leaders to boost their energy

How to demonstrate empathy without losing your balance.

Great leaders have the ability to connect with people. They know exactly which approach to pick at any given time to energise and motivate their troops. This kind of servant leadership requires tuning in to their people’s needs to better understand them, to put themselves in the other person’s shoes, and to offer the right kind of support. In short, it requires customer-centricity. 

At Imagine Beyond, we’ve identified customer centricity as one of the essential traits of an entrepreneurial leader (read our article for the list of entrepreneurial leadership attributes). We believe that deep, meaningful connections with customers and employees are based on empathy and that this particular skill is essential in today’s leadership landscape. The great news is that most of us are empathetic leaders. 

But empathy can be draining, particularly when our own energy reserves are already low to start with. By definition, it means opening ourselves up to the emotions of others and even taking them in. Considering that most leaders report feeling burnt out, how can you keep providing team members with the support they deserve without completely depleting your batteries? How can you protect and boost your energy levels to continue showing up for others? 

Here are some quick tips. 

What does empathy mean for an entrepreneurial leader? 

In order to keep tapping into your empathy skills without affecting your own well-being, it’s important to distinguish between the three types of empathy, which can be required of a leader on a daily basis. 

1. Emotional empathy

The ability to feel what other people are feeling. For example, your emotional state could be directly impacted by the sadness or anger a coworker feels, leading you to feel sad as well. 

2. Cognitive empathy

The ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and to see things from their perspective. This could mean understanding why an employee could feel hurt and disappointed after being told they didn’t get the promotion they were hoping for whilst still believing the right choice has been made. 

3. Compassionate empathy

The ability to display compassion towards others without taking on their emotions as your own. While still demonstrating emotional intelligence and care towards others, this empathy isn’t as draining as emotional empathy. 

Being able to relate to other people’s emotions and state of mind to better serve their needs is the sign of a great entrepreneurial leader. However, doing so without taking those emotions on as our own is a delicate balancing act. 

Making sure you have enough left in the tank: boosting your energy levels

Here’s How To Protect And Even Enhance Your Own Well-Being, So You Can Keep Showing Up For Others. 

 1. Identify Your Energy Drains

Ask yourself what drains your energy so you can better manage it. When do you feel at your worst at work? For example, this could be random reactivity or responsiveness to notifications, being surrounded by negative energy or simply not having clear boundaries between your work and home life. Spending too much time around people or spending too much time alone could also lead to compassion fatigue, depending on whether you are more of an introvert or an extrovert. Knowing what depletes your batteries is the first step towards protecting your energy and having the mental space to be present for yourself and for others. 

2. Know What Gives You an Energy Boost

Equally, spend some time identifying your energy boosters so you can turn to them whenever feeling a little burnt out. This could be movement, music, regular breaks, fresh air, practising mindfulness or setting aside some focused time. Spending time in nature is also a great way to re-energise yourself. Go on a mindful walk and simply pay attention to the details around you to reset and rebalance. 

3. Set Healthy Boundaries

Structure your work day in a way that works for you. Implement no-meeting Fridays, turn emails off after five pm or ask for support when you need it. Set some time aside to tune in to your own feelings, and say no when you need to. And don’t forget to listen to your body and to give yourself time to recharge when you need it. 

4. Seek Out Positive Experiences

Rather than simply protecting your energy, open yourself up to the kind of restorative interactions that generate happiness and a sense of belonging. Surround yourself with positive, supportive people who make you feel great. Learn new things, and stay curious. Give to others, whether through random acts of kindness or by recognising the good work your team is doing. The important thing is to constantly challenge yourself to make a difference. 

Research shows that people are more likely to remain within an organisation if their leader is perceived as empathetic, and it’s not hard to understand why. When we don’t have enough left in the tank, we can easily become irritable, less attentive, stressed and anxious. Looking after your team and creating a culture where they feel understood, listened to, and valued requires looking after yourself first. 

Taking time to recharge may seem impossible in a fast-paced environment where leaders are constantly being solicited; however, doing so will make you a better leader and set the kind of example that creates a positive work culture overall. 
Keen to make the most of your skills as an entrepreneurial leader? Don’t hesitate to reach out; we’d love to talk. 

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