Simon Sinek is an author and inspirational speaker who focuses on how people can improve their business leadership skills. As a trained ethnographer, Sinek looks deeply at how people operate within their relationships to others and utilizes that knowledge to help teams operate smoothly and successfully.
He shared his outlook on ways businesses can change to center people over profit and become more caring as organizations.
There’s one major problem with bosses who get rid of employees who have performance problems at work.
And it’s a lack of empathy. Sinek offered two varying viewpoints on how bosses can address their employees when there are issues around performance.
He posed the following question during a speech: “Why is it that when someone has performance problems at work that our instinct is to say, ‘You’re out’?”
“We do not practice empathy,” he explained. He described a lack of empathy as “what’s normal in our business world,” a world which tends to value what output people can offer, rather than the people, themselves.
He gave an example of lacking empathy in the workplace, saying, “You walk into someone’s office, someone walks into our office, and says, ‘Your numbers have been down for the 3rd quarter in a row; you have to pick up your numbers, otherwise I can’t guarantee what the future will look like.’”
Photo: Tima Miroshnichenko / Pexels
“How inspired do you think that person is, to come to work the next day?” He asked.
Sinek explained that certain bosses don’t act with empathy because they have a hard time seeing their employees as human and vulnerable.
He then gave an example of empathy in the workplace, saying, “You walk into someone’s office, someone walks into your office, and says, ‘Your numbers are down for the 3rd quarter in a row. Are you okay? I’m worried about you. What’s going on?’”
“We all have performance issues,” he stated. “Maybe someone’s kid is sick. Maybe they’re having problems in their marriage. Maybe one of their parents is dying. We don’t know what’s going on in their lives, and of course, it will affect performance at work.”
“Empathy is being concerned about the human being, not just their output,” he concluded. By noting their own humanness, leaders can set a framework for open communication and a caring environment.
All too often, we’re expected to keep our work lives and our personal lives wholly separate, yet that isn’t always possible, especially in times of crisis. At our core, we are always ourselves, and we bring our full selves into everything we do.
Photo: Artem Podrez / Pexels
Being empathic takes practice, yet it’s a skill that can definitely be cultivated. A simple way to start practicing empathy is to view people as their whole selves; ask how they’re feeling and fully listen to their answers.
Sinek holds to the belief that strong leadership is based on genuine generosity, which can be as small as giving people grace in the workplace if they seem to be struggling. By leading with kindness, bosses can center the emotional and practical needs of their employees, and make the workplace a fully supportive environment.
Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango’s news and entertainment team. She covers issues in the workplace, pop culture analysis, and all things to do with the entertainment industry.