Tag Archives: Leadership Coaching

E is for Empathy

In the A- Z of leadership E is Empathy. Putting yourself in another’s shoes.

 

Empathy is really understanding the other person’s perspective, position and feelings. It is the ability to ‘step back’, and achieve a detachment from our own emotions, and is essential for building trust, rapport and effective relationships.

It involves listening and understanding – not necessarily agreeing (which is different) – to the other person. Listening without judging.

As a minimum a good leader asks open questions to encourage and understand the views, feelings and attitudes of others, and reflects back to show they understand or to clarify. But a good leader will do this without being judgemental of others’ views even if these conflict with their own, and will be open to differences in opinions and perspectives.

 

Empathy goes beyond what is said, it is also demonstrated via your tone and body language. A critical or sarcastic tone will not encourage someone to share their views; neither will raised eyebrows, scowling or defensive body language.

 

Active listening is key, show your interest, ask probing questions (in a non-judgemental way) to ensure understanding. Aim to understand how the other person feels, why they see things as they see things as they do (so bring out any underlying assumptions) and to discover what they want to achieve.

 

Seek first to understand’ is one of the seven habits described by Stephen Covey in ‘The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People

 

Ask for feedback on your own behaviour so you can use this information to strengthen your relationships with your team. Be open with your own feelings and views too to enable your team to see things from your perspective, and by sharing your views you will encourage others to do the same.

Aim to develop a culture of trust and openness where your team can speak out knowing they will be heard and without fear of criticism.

Why is empathy important?

  • When you understand others’ perspectives it can help in the way you sell ideas to them and gain buy in (as well as the way you sell to customers and suppliers).
  • If people know they are listen to it helps to build trust between you and your team
  • It creates a more open and honest environment where you will get to hear of issues and concerns before they become a problem
  • Your team feel able to state their true ideas, feelings and beliefs maximising their contribution.
  • Empathy is also important in dealing with guests and customers, so demonstrating the skill with our teams will act as a role model

 

Building relationships with your team is key to effective leadership, and the skills needed will is covered in detail in my new Leading for Peak Performance programme,


Why do staff quit your hotel?

Yesterday I was at the local hoteliers’ association meeting where one of the topics of conversation was finding good quality staff, in particular chefs. We already know that there is a lack of new talent entering the industry so it’s important that we hang on to our best people. The hospitality industry has always had one of the highest labour turnover rates in all sectors of the economy but there are a few things that we can do to minimise staff turnover.

First of all unless we understand why staff leaving it will be difficult to reverse the trend. In an ideal world some kind of confidential exit interview should be conducted and wherever possible this is best done by someone other than a line manager. The reason for this is that if it’s poor management or leadership that has prompted the move, it’s unlikely that you’re going to learn the truth if the line manager is asking the question! The saying goes people don’t quit jobs they quit bosses.

But even if your staff structure doesn’t allow for this it is important to find out much as possible about people’s motives for leaving.

If the reason they give is more money look to see how your rates compare with the competition. But also look at what benefits your staff are getting that they may not be getting elsewhere and ensure people are aware of everything that makes up their package.

If they’re moving for career progression, is this something that you could a given them but just didn’t make them aware of the opportunities? What can you do in future to ensure that all your team get the recognition and development they need for their career progression? You won’t be able to accommodate everyone’s aspirations particularly if you’re a small hotel, but having some kind of succession plan in place does give people something to work towards. However, don’t make promises that you are unable to keep.

And if you find out you are the problem and the reason that people leave, reflect on what you need to do to change. Find out what are the things that people find difficult or frustrating about working for you or with you, and then figure out a way to change your approach.

My new online leadership coaching programme could be a starting point to getting the help you need and is being launched in September.


Can you train leadership?

As I work on my new on line leadership coaching programme for hoteliers I was asked today if you can train leadership.  Good question; and brings us back to one of those perennial questions – are leaders born or made?

According to extensive long term research carried out by CHPD (for whom I work as an external leadership consultant) a proportion of leadership performance is influenced by personality, values, beliefs and attitudes, which are either inherent or formed relatively early in life. A second component is the person’s skills and experience, which although can’t change over night, can be developed over time. But by far the biggest proportion of leadership performance is determined by our behaviours, which are the easiest component to change.

So can you train leadership? Yes, I believe you can. Providing you identify the behaviours needed and then work on developing those behaviours that will give the biggest impact on a person’s performance.

These might not be where the person is weakest. Rather than plugging a gap to develop a weak spot (unless it is having a detrimental impact) and end up with mediocre performance, it may be better to capitalise on a person’s strengths and develop those instead. (I think back to my recent interview with Peter Thomson – “people will never consistently do who they aren’t”.) Then set up teams where individuals complement one another. Think of a football team; if someone showed an aptitude to do well in goal, you would be more likely to develop this skill rather than try to develop this person in every other aspect of playing football; what you are more likely to do is develop their goal keeping skills.

One of the first things to do in changing someone’s behaviours is making them aware – being aware of what they are doing, and the impact this has (see article on feedback), then help them identify how to build on positive behaviours and change negative behaviours.

Foundations in Leadership is a new approach to hospitality leadership development. Do you ever feel you aren’t getting everything you want from your team?  Instead would you love to tap into their true potential so you can focus on the bigger picture? Find out more about the programme here and take advantage of the fast action bonuses.


Learn to let go

I caught myself this week doing something I really should have delegated to someone else. Not only was this tying up my valuable time when I could be doing something more productive; the person who should have done it would have done a better job, and in half the time!

Do you ever find yourself falling into this trap?

When you own the business or have high stakes in it, it can sometimes be difficult to let others get on with things. In my recent interview series ‘How to Give Your Hotel a Competitive Edge’ two of my interviewees talked about how hands on they like to be. And it is understandable. And a good leader should be prepared to muck in and roll their sleeves up when absolutely necessary; but this should be the exception rather than the rule.

The skill is knowing when to let go of the day to day issues, and put your trust in someone else to get on with things, leaving you to focus on the more strategic aspects of the businesses.

So just check to see if you ever catch yourself using any of these ‘excuses’

 

■              “It takes too much time to explain, I can do it quicker”
In the short-term yes, but in the longer term if you delegate you are saving time

 

■              “They aren’t yet capable”
And never will be unless you start incorporating delegation as part of your people’s development plans

 

■              “No-one, except me, is up to it”
Maybe, but are you being too much of a perfectionist?  Does the task need such a degree of excellence?  If not, maybe someone can do the job adequately in less time

 

■              “I enjoy these tasks – losing them would make my job less interesting”
In the longer term, improvement in staff morale and performance will make your job easier and just as enjoyable

 

■              “I delegate some things – the things I hate”
Consider whether simply discarding and offloading work you don’t want to do is the most effective way to develop and motivate people

 

■              “If someone else does it I’ll lose control and respect”
You’ll lose more control and more  respect by not devoting enough time to managing the whole business effectively because you are too wrapped up in the detail.

 

My new online leadership coaching programme is being launched in September.

For the full article on delegation go here.

Caroline Cooper