The scene from “A League of Their Own” is one that most of us can recount on spot. A player begins crying, and Tom Hanks responds: “Are you crying? Are you crying? There’s no crying in baseball!” It’s like this in business, too. When in reality, business is personal.

We grow up in organizations learning:
• Check your emotions at the door.
• Leave your personal problems at home.
• It’s not personal, it’s business.

But in fact, business is personal.

Our organizations are made up of human beings. And as such, emotions and human behavior are a central part of how we interact and how successful we are. So if business is personal, what do we do?

Act with Respect for People

Respect for People is one of two pillars of Lean. But it’s an often misunderstood idea. In fact, Respect for People goes much deeper than common courtesy to valuing the intrinsic gifts of each person and creating environments where people learn to think and solve problems. Check out this comprehensive post I wrote earlier this year that explores how Respect for People shows up in your leadership thoughts and behaviors.

Develop Empathy for People

Brene Brown describes empathy as “Feeling With People.” And empathy is only possible if you care about the people you work with. So the first step to developing empathy is to take a look in the mirror and ask yourself how much you actually care about each person you work with. Not just from a business productivity standpoint, but from a human standpoint. Are you able to separate the work from the person and genuinely want the best for each person on your team?

Theresa Wiseman gives us these Four Attributes of Empathy:
1. To be able to see the world as others see it
2. To be non-judgmental
3. To understand another person’s feelings
4. To communicate the understanding of that person’s feelings

Which of these attributes do you need the most support in (seriously, email and let me know and I will develop some additional content for you!).

Empathy at Work because Business is Personal

Listen to People

Now that we know the construct of empathy, we then need to take action. Listening for Impact is one of the key behaviors we can demonstrate to connect with people, see the world as others see it, and understand their feelings.

So what is Listening for Impact? Well, it’s listening, not telling. It’s using silence to allow the other person to continue talking. It’s stopping yourself from giving the answer and instead just indicating that you hear the struggle and emotion the person is sharing with you. It’s using derivative and reflective responses to clarify what you’re hearing rather than asking leading questions. Ah – the art of asking good, non-leading, non-judgmental questions – it’s one of my favorite things to teach in workshops!

Be Transparent and Vulnerable with People

Since business is personal, that means we have to get personal ourselves. And I’m not talking about sharing all of your skeletons or your deepest, darkest secrets. I’m just talking about sharing how you feel. Sharing your wins and what you’re excited about – and why. Sharing your fears about the business – and why. Telling stories from your past business and leadership experiences that aren’t used to manipulate (“sell” or “convince” someone to do something), but just as a way to allow people to better understand you and your own unique perspectives.

Business is Personal, So What Does That Mean for Change?

I explored this exact question in a recent webinar with KaiNexus called “How to Ease the Pain of Change”. If you missed it, you can watch the replay here.

On the fence about whether you want to spend an hour on this webinar? Here’s some of the post-webinar survey feedback to help you get off the fence:

“Jamie was amazing. I wish she was my personal mentor.”
“Invite Jamie back. I could listen to her for hours.”
“The content was terrific. The speaker, Jamie Parker, was excellent. Great information. Well organized presentation.”
“Powerful, highly applicable.”
“Jamie is a wonderful speaker. Very engaging.”
“Easy to understand, practical to use.”
“Jamie’s stories really connected to me.”
“The webinar was amazing.”

Human Nature and Lean Leadership

Want to learn more about how all this personal, humanness in business stuff relates to transforming from traditional management to Lean leadership? Check out these previous blog posts:

And head over to the right hand bar to sign up for future posts and webinar invitations!

 

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