Just as leaders must create the conditions that enable high performance, they must create the conditions that enable the growth of their people as well. If we want to help others to grow, we need to create an environment that encourages growth. We create such an environment through empathy, warmth, and genuineness. Humanistic psychologists call this an environment of unconditional positive regard.
Warmth is easy. We can all be warm toward others; even if we don’t necessarily like them. We can even fake warmth. We do that all the time. Empathy and genuineness are harder. To be really empathetic and see and feel the other person’s experience, we have to genuinely want to do so. If we’re not, we’re faking my empathy just like we can fake being warm.
I think we become more genuine when we engage in an ongoing process of self-reflection and dialogue with others. It’s how we learn more about ourselves, our strengths and our blind spots. The insights learned from our reflection and dialoguing with another enable the shifts in mindset and skill set that are the signs of growth. As we grow, we can create an environment that will help the people on our teams to grow. Focusing on enabling growth has a dual effect: people grow AND engagement and performance levels go up. Funny how that works.
Here’s a link to a great article on the practice of empathy: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-nichtern/the-pursuit-of-happiness-_b_743570.html