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Called to Coach
Empathy®: Developing Your Leadership Skills
Called to Coach

Empathy®: Developing Your Leadership Skills

Webcast Details

  • Gallup CliftonStrengths Podcast, Season 2: Empathy
  • What is the power of Empathy in a leadership role?
  • How could Empathy help or hinder you in leading others?

Below are audio and video plus a transcript of the conversation, including time stamps.


Explore Gallup's CliftonStrengths® for Leaders Report and discover its ability to help you maximize the impact of your -- and others' -- unique leadership talents and strengths, in this Season 2 episode of The CliftonStrengths Podcast. Join Jim Collison and Dr. Jaclynn Robinson as they discuss the Empathy® theme, its power in a leadership role, how it can help or hinder you as you lead others, and how you can leverage it with the CliftonStrengths for Managers and CliftonStrengths for Sales Reports. Unlock the leadership potential of your Empathy talent -- because everyone leads something.


A leader with Empathy tends to have a pulse on the emotions of others and can be comfortable providing time and space for people to ... process change or any impactful event before providing next steps.

Jaclynn Robinson, 2:07

Since buying habits and brand loyalty are emotional more than rational, ... [leaders with Empathy are] probably quite good at creating brand loyalty or client partnership as a result.

Jim Collison 0:00
I am Jim Collison, and this is The CliftonStrengths Podcast, Season 2, recorded on January 10, 2023.

Jim Collison 0:20
In this CliftonStrengths Podcast series, we'll look at the CliftonStrengths for Leaders Report one theme at a time, and today's theme is Empathy. If you're listening live, we'd love to have you join us in chat. If you're listening after the fact, you can send your questions to us via email: Dr. Jaclynn Robinson is our host today. She works as a Gallup Learning and Development Consultant and has joined me for Season 1 of The CliftonStrengths Podcast, where we looked at the Wellbeing at Work book, and we looked at it one theme at a time as well. Jaclynn, always great to see you. And welcome back!

Jaclynn Robinson 0:52
Thank you. Hello.

Introducing Empathy

Jim Collison 0:54
We are spending some time talking about Empathy today. Let's dig in a little bit. Give us kind of that standard definition, so to speak -- maybe not so standard.

Jaclynn Robinson 1:03
Yes. So if you have Empathy, you can sense other people's feelings by imagining yourself in others' lives or situations.

What Is the Power of Empathy in a Leadership Role?

Jim Collison 1:12
And I love that idea of sensing in this. I think this is one of those where, where Empathy really leads out in this ability to see it ahead of time in people, right? Sense it in people going, going forward with that. I think sometimes where we miss on that is on our own, folks with high Empathy, sometimes we're so tuned in to other folks, we don't tune in to ourselves. That's not what we're talking about today. But that's one of those areas I've seen sometimes with folks high in Empathy, where they don't, they're not listening to themselves as well. So maybe those high Empathy folks, you can let us know how that's going for you. We are talking about leadership, however. So when we think of the power of this theme in a leadership role, I think some folks see it as a drag, but I think it's super, super powerful. Talk a little bit about how it can, how it can, the power of this with leaders.

Jaclynn Robinson 2:06
Yes. So a leader with Empathy tends to have a pulse on the emotions of others and can be comfortable providing time and space for people to process their emotions, to process change or, you know, any impactful event before providing next steps. So there's that pause to just process as opposed to moving straight ahead. And even with the next steps that they take, they'll likely be considering, Hey, how do we create Stability? And how do we offer Compassion to ground, you know, these individuals? So they've got people and their emotions top of mind, which I think is incredible.

How Can Those With Empathy Lead Others?

Jim Collison 2:42
Yeah, cause we can't, I think sometimes we think we can completely remove emotions from the equation. Like, you know, what, Why are you getting so emotional about this? Well, we're humans. That happens. Part of what's, the, what makes us great. And so, you know, it is part of that. I think in leadership, I think that's, by the way, this is one of those areas, I think, in leadership that's the hardest. And so I think those who have high Empathy in leadership roles, if I'm leading a team of leaders, I am going to look for my high-Empathy managers to say, You got to help me with this. Right, you guys, that's one of those areas where, as a leader of leaders, I might lean on those, because I don't have it very high. When, when, so how could this, so we talked about in leadership. So how could this, how could we use this theme to lead others, then? Let's, let's dig in a little bit on that one.

Jaclynn Robinson 3:40
Well, because leaders with this theme sense the emotions of others, they can create a safe space for people to be honest and more vulnerable. And then through that honesty, whether it's a conversation or open feedback in a, an employee survey, so to speak, that leader is more capable of taking action or helping that individual or team or department to identify a solution. So it's not going to necessarily brew under the table. And in, you know, world terms, that might just be, you know, they're not going to ignore it, but they can actually bring it out and manage it. Once it's called out, people can do something about it.

Jim Collison 4:18
Jaclynn, How is import, how important is the responsibility, knowing we're getting at core emotions of people and, and for those of us who maybe have it high or don't, and are getting these core emotions, how important it is, is it to safeguard those emotions? I think, you know, you, you're getting these, this raw feedback from people, when we think about it in the context of teams. How important is it to safeguard those, that feedback that we're getting? Yeah, talk a little bit about that.

Jaclynn Robinson 4:51
Without that psychological safety in the room, that will start to just break down trust. And then, if we go back to the 4 Needs of Followers, without Trust, how can you stabilize a group? How can you, how can they feel like you are Compassionate towards them as a group? Or how can you offer Hope? Trust is really that first step. And so I think it's so important to be safe with people's emotions whenever they come to you. And it's probably quite a dance for those high with Empathy to be able to manage those emotions and also try to move them from that period, after they've processed them into action. So that they and the individual that's coming to them don't sit in that space forever.

How Could Empathy Hinder Your Leadership of Others?

Jim Collison 5:38
I think as a leader, this is one where, if we get it wrong, it's very damaging. If we lose that trust, if we get that emotional feedback, and then do whatever -- fill in the blanks -- we're gonna talk about how that can hinder here in just a second. But that's one of those areas as a leader, when you lose it, you lose it fast. And so I think it's just a warning on that. You have that power to draw it out. As a young leader, as I think about young leaders and leadership, I think that's one of those areas to be very, very careful in. You've gotten privileged information -- in some cases, very privileged. What you do with it matters. Like, the next thing you do with it really, really matters, right. Let's talk a little bit about how this theme can hinder the leadership of others.

Jaclynn Robinson 6:27
Ooh -- wearing the emotions of the workplace on their shoulders without having an outlet or being able to process or rid them, at the end of the day can really very quickly lead someone with Empathy to burnout. And because of that mental and emotional exhaustion that that can take, it can be really hard to make decisions from a practical standpoint or to move forward with a challenging but necessary change for the workplace. So I think it is really, going back to, to, I think something you mentioned earlier, it just reminded me of wellbeing. But oh, you had mentioned those with Empathy, you know, are able to empathize with others, but it might be harder to receive or manage their own feelings. So that's that wellbeing piece -- How am I shedding the feelings of others off and, you know, focusing on my own wellbeing?

Jim Collison 7:17
Yeah, I think in traditional leadership circles, we've actually encouraged people to shed those thoughts of Empathy. And so for, I think, for those of us who are high in Empathy, and if we are finding ourselves in that kind of leadership team or a leadership role where that Empathy is being squelched or being suppressed or not encouraged to be used, that can be an area where we might employ that on others. Right, we may push that forward on others. And that would hinder us, I think, in some ways. Any, any other thoughts on that?

Jaclynn Robinson 7:54
That's a great way of putting it. I, I would suggest, anytime possible that someone high in Empathy then have a coach or a mentor or someone they can talk to, just to manage all of that.

How Can You Use Empathy as You Lead, Together With the Managers and Sales Reports?

Jim Collison 8:11
I completely agree. It's, it's an, because it's dealing with emotions. And that doesn't mean the others don't. But I think in particular, this one really deals with emotions. And this may be one of those areas, leaders, we need to really focus, get it right, and spend a little time think, a little, a little more time thinking about it, maybe, than we do. This season, we're spending some time thinking about the CliftonStrengths for Leaders Report, a brand new role-based report we have available. But we're also thinking about tying that together. We have two other role-based reports: CliftonStrengths for Sales and CliftonStrengths for Managers. Let's talk about this idea of report dynamics, as we put those together -- the CliftonStrengths for Leaders and the CliftonStrengths for Sales Report. With Empathy, putting those two together, what do you see that combination of reports? What could we, how could we be successful with that?

Jaclynn Robinson 8:58
I think this one's fun. So this leader could empathize with the client they're working with or their products or services they sell to customers. And they'll have a sense of what the client or customer's needs are and can help create a solution for those needs. And since buying habits and brand loyalty are emotional, more than rational, this is based on Daniel Kahneman's work of, you know, the behavioral economist, they're probably quite good at creating brand loyalty or client partnership as a result. I think they've got that, they've got a really cool superpower here.

Jim Collison 9:34
Yeah, well, the art of advertising is done at the emotional level. You know, you think you've seen these -- we, we have been doing, I'm on the on the marketing team now, and we've been doing a retreat all week. And we spent some times looking at some successful ad campaigns, and one of them really tied to the emotions, right. Little tear, I'm kind of tearing up thinking about it right now. Well, but that invokes those emotions. Like I said earlier, I think from, from that perspective, from a sales perspective, evoking emotions just as a manipulative ploy, there's a fine line in there, right, between marketing and manipulation. And so I think, again, we need to be responsible in that space thinking about it. But I love that, I love that idea. Again, going back to solutions, we're selling solutions, and oftentimes solutions that can, that can make emotions better could be a more, could be a more viable solution for the customer. What about the CliftonStrengths for Leaders and CliftonStrengths for Managers Report together? (Report dynamics TM.) Well, how would we put those two together?

Jaclynn Robinson 10:45
A leader that manages people with this theme can be tuned in to someone's emotional state in the workplace. So they might be, you know, just looking at that person, hey, are they engaged? Are they burned out? Something feels a little off. And as a result of that, they can support the wellbeing of direct reports and help celebrate this individual when something great happens, but also create the open psychological, you know, safe space for them to talk when something not so great happens. And they can broach that topic themselves, because they're already picking up on it. So that gives them that opportunity to check in. I feel like something's off here. I'm just gonna see, Hey, how are you today? Is everything OK? So I think they can take those preemptive measures and support wellbeing before it gets low.

Jim Collison 11:34
Yeah, yeah. No, I love that. I love, you know, just as a reminder, there's, there's, you know, how to be success, in each of these report, role-based reports, how to be successful, what can hinder and then some action items are available. We're just merely making some suggestions of thinking about the two reports together, how that plays out for you. We don't know. We know, you're going to be your own podcast. Like you're going to live out a life in a way that's gonna be unique to you, right? And so these are some, these are just merely some suggestions to kind of get you started. But you finish the story. You finish the story on this one. See, I'm playing to the Empathy emotional aspect. You finish the story.

Jaclynn Robinson 12:14
These are just little sparks.

Jim Collison 12:17
Like that! 1,000 points of light. Jaclynn, anything else, as we wrap this, anything else you want to add?

Jaclynn Robinson 12:25
Well, I just spoke of wellbeing. And we've talked about how self-care can be difficult for those with Empathy. So maybe we extend a branch to our friends with Empathy out there. Because it's been, I imagine, quite a ride, for those that have this high, in the past 3 years, especially, with everyone just feeling like they're on their own roller coaster ride with organizational change, with societal change, whatever it might be. So maybe I'd charge all of us with checking in on them and helping them to see what they might need from us this time.

Jim Collison 13:00
Yeah. I like that. This question, How are you doing? Like how are you really doing? I know we've, that's taken on a whole new meaning after, after this pandemic, of thinking about like, no, no, How are you really doing? I mean I, that did so many things to remove the, just whatever was covering whatever was there, and we're just kind of seeing people in their raw form, after all the stress, right. So those of you leading with Empathy, you've got, you've got your hands full. Make sure you're taking care of yourself as well in this, but, but certainly your superpower is needed more than ever. Jaclynn, thanks for joining me today.

Jaclynn Robinson 13:43
They're chicken soup for the soul®.

Jim Collison 13:46
Well, with that, we'll remind everyone to take full advantage of all the resources we do have available now in Gallup Access. Head out to Log in, go to the Resources tab, upper left, go to Resources, put in "Empathy" in the resource. You'll see all the webcasts. If you like this one, we got 6 seasons of Theme Thursday and a whole season on wellbeing, plus everything we've written on it today. It's all out there. If you're a Learner, you're gonna want to head out there and, right, or Input or any of the themes -- let's just be honest. Head out there and, and do that today. Stay up to date with all the webcasts by following us on Eventbrite: Create an account and hit Follow; you'll get a notification whenever I put something new, like I did this morning. Join us on any social platform by searching "CliftonStrengths." And we want to thank you for joining us today. If you liked it, regardless of where you're at, just hit the thumbs up or the Like or plus or star or whatever it takes to get that done. Don't forget to subscribe on your favorite podcast app, so you never miss an episode. Thanks for joining us today. If you're listening live, stay around for a little bit of postshow. With that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

Jaclynn Robinson's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Achiever, Strategic, Maximizer, Positivity and Relator.

Learn more about using CliftonStrengths to help yourself and others succeed:

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