Leadership is a contact sport.

President Theodore Roosevelt said, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care. ” Daniel Goleman identified empathy as another attribute of emotional intelligence. As you well know, empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing within their frame of reference. In other words, it’s the capacity to place oneself in another person’s position.

Empathy is not possible if we’re unwilling to focus, listen and connect on an emotional level. We develop more empathetic responses the more we get out and make contact. Let’s face it, LEADERSHIP IS A CONTACT SPORT.

There simply is no substitute for interacting deeply with the people you lead. I have learned our people are looking for a leader who first understands, and then helps according to that knowledge

Some helpful empathy keys are:

Focus on active listening. When asking questions — actually listen. Eyes on the other person at all times, when they stop talking, count to five before you respond, they may have more to say.

Ask yourself, “Am I taking the time to really understand?”

Ask yourself, “Am I sensitive, compassionate and caring toward the people I lead?”

Hopefully this will serve as a quick reminder that it is all about them!