The Importance of Empathy

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Kevin Jones- June 27, 2019 I’ve reached a place in my career where I choose the people I work with, whether it’s our employees, our strategic partners, or the kinds of customers we bring in to Celero. That’s not something to be taken lightly, and while that’s an incredible place to be, it comes with a high price. That price is constant mindfulness of the needs of others, and how best to take care of their needs. The key to our success is empathy.

When I first began managing people over 20 years ago, I knew that in order to motivate people to succeed for themselves and their customers beyond their wildest dreams, there couldn’t be a “Kevin Jones Way” of leadership. Instead, I decided to make each relationship about the other person, thinking that if I gave them what they needed—confidence, encouragement, tools, and sometimes an appropriate dose of tough love—they would not only play their role on the team, but be the ultimate teammate.

Early on, I could see that this path to leadership was a formula for winning—and winning big. When people know that you believe in them, consider their well-being in an authentic way, and invest in them for the long-term, their performance, productivity, and happiness know few boundaries.

The same dynamic holds true for partners and customers. When you extend empathy and try to walk a mile in the shoes of those outside your company, great things happen. In the business-to-business world, business owners and managers are looking for someone that transcends the traditional vendor/client framework, wanting trusted partners. When you live with empathy for your partners and clients, you can even transcend the trusted partner level and become more like a teammate or even a friend or family member.

What I’m talking about here isn’t a normal approach, but I think it’s what the best companies do best—empathizing to better understand employees, partners, and customers. And this abnormal approach definitely yields abnormal responses, underpinned by a higher level of loyalty.

Here’s the best part: when you choose to lead with your values, first among them empathy, but closely behind come teamwork, accountability, respect, and positivity, success is sweeter. It’s sweeter because you share it with others, with your employees, partners, and customers. I like to think of the difference in a way that many can relate to immediately. I enjoyed my life immensely before I met my wife. My life was certainly good, but I had no idea how great it would become, first through sharing it with her, and then with her and our children.

Anybody who knows me at all hears me talk a lot about concepts like loyalty and culture. Loyalty is something we create through individual relationships, and so is culture. But culture is what happens through the exponential power of all of those individual relationships when you bind them together in the service of a single mission. And the key to all of these wonderful elements of a company is empathy.