Why are two different leaders, both of which appear equally prepared, trained, and qualified to be leaders, often perceived so differently by others? Why does one generally become a truly great leader, while the other may not? Often, the main difference between the two, is that one leader is genuinely sympathetic to the needs of others, while the other does not have that emotional involvement or tie. Dale Carnegie stated, “Three- fourths of the people you will meet today are hungering and thirsting for sympathy.” While many of our political leaders never seem to have been able to connect with the American public on this basic emotional level, there is no doubt that President Clinton did. Regardless of one’s political or personal views about Clinton, the vast majority public came away with the definite feeling that he cared about them, and that when he bit his lip, and said, “I feel your pain,” he meant it. Much of President Clinton’s success resulted from this connection, which created a high level of popularity, even during some messy personal scandals.
1. Great leaders emphasize effective listening. They focus on people first, and policy second. Their main goal is to ease the situation of others, or at the very least, comfort others by providing value, and appearing to truly care about the lots of their constituents. This is not only true, obviously, in the public political and governmental arena. It is even more true in most organizations, where so many are feeling a detachment from an organization, because they do not get the sense that anyone really cares about them. Great leaders understand that, and at the very least empathize, thus putting themselves in the other person’s place, and identifying what constituents want and need.
2. Especially with organizations, sympathetic/ empathetic connection begins with attention to the need for effective communication. In today’s world, far too many in leadership positions rely far too heavily on the exclusive use of digital/ electronic methods of communicating. While it is true that there is a need for effective use of email, texts, eblasts, websites, blogs, etc., they should never replace personal face- to- face and other oral means of communicating. One can get in touch with someone electronically, but can rarely touch someone by digital means. Electronic media is often a cold and heartless way of getting in touch. Think, for example, of what makes you feel like someone really cares, a Facebook birthday wish, or receiving a personal telephone call. Overly simplistic example, perhaps, but doesn’t it make sense?
Unsympathetic leaders rarely commit to be the type of leader that considers value to others as a priority. These types of leaders generally do not even want to hear the concerns that others may have. If you want to be a great leader, then you must commit to be a truly sympathetic/ empathetic leader.