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Empathy And Leadership Go Hand-In-Hand, Now, More Than Ever


Anne Cantelo said in 2017, that working from home was something most businesses she had consulted with previously would have never considered implementing due to the potential issues that could arise. During the Covid19 pandemic, many organisations that would have turned their noses up at agile working, in any sense, have been put in a position where they have been exposed to a whole new realm of leadership; from having pets give cameos in morning conference calls, to hearing your colleague’s toddler having a tantrum over having to eat vegetables behind the closed doors, to even catching a glimpse of the home where your fellow workers feel most comfortable, you are privy to so much more. It has added a semblance of humanity to the corporate machine, with many getting significant insight into the worlds their colleagues exist in behind closed doors. The good, and the bad.


Working from home has given everyone, including those with power and authority in an organisation, the power in order to view their colleagues in a different way; how Susy who drinks iced tea even in the dead of winter acts when her four-year-old comes in to show her his drawing; how Malcom, who never fails to wear the most obscene ties, rocks his newborn son while presenting the daily numbers, because his paternity leave ended two weeks ago, but his girlfriend hasn’t slept in days. How Tina from accounts, who always has the sourest look on her face, lights up when her British bulldog comes doddering over to her lap. You don’t just see the colleagues that pass you by at the water cooler, you see the mother, the father, the animal lover.


Leading with empathy means being privy to not only the comical moments with pets and children, but understanding that sometimes, you might be frazzled after fighting your cat for the internet cable, that sometimes you might be late due to battling the wi-fi password, or a software update, and that oversleeping, especially in a world where the last fifteen months have been like sitting in liminal space, is something that happens to us all. We’re all exhausted. The pandemic has exhausted most of our exuberance, and our sanity.


We must lead with that same sense of understanding, now, more than ever. Understand that your colleagues who seem to be sunshine and rainbows at the coffee machine may be going through their own personal hell; financial problems, home issues, etc.


Work is an escape in this sense, and for many, working from home was a nightmare, because you don’t want the colleagues that see you in your pinstripe blazer to see the damp crawling up your kitchen walls. Insecurity, fear, all of this is normal and should be respected. We’re all afraid of sharing our true colours to our colleagues to some extent. Being at home makes us vulnerable.


When we have the option to return to the office, and like many of us will, we will do so with the hopes that our experiences throughout the pandemic will not be used against us, but instead, may allow us to be better understood; like when you see Malcom in a black tie because his baby boy ruined the polka dot one he’d been wearing before he did the early-morning feed and change. Maybe he’s tired, maybe he looks a bit more dishevelled? He’s vulnerable, he’s exhausted. He’s allowed to be. You’re allowed to be.


We’re only human. We should lead with that in mind.



Based in London, U.K., and founded in 2016 by Arvind Mishra The Agile Works (www.TheAgileWorks.com), is an up-and-coming recruitment and Agile consulting company. Arvind is a Certified SAFe SPC and regularly delivers both private and public SAFe certification workshops.

He is a design thinking expert, Sr. enterprise, portfolio Agile Coach with over a decade of experience working as an Agile coach in diverse industries such as banking, pharma, retail, auto, oil, gas, consulting and government.

The Agile Works; a small team of three strive to help shape the leadership's mind-set and values in readiness for their business transformation journey challenges. With Arvind at the helm, we strive to provide you with the agility tools to make your company that can thrive, and not just survive.

To book a consultation, or for any enquiries, you can contact Arvind via the following email address: arvind@theagileworks.com


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