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This is the text of an article I wrote which was published in the Sunday Gleaner in Jamaica on 23 April 2017.

The article is one in a series sponsored by the University of the West Indies, highlighting the relevance and value of an education in the arts and humanities.

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It came as no surprise when I told my parents that I wanted to study foreign languages at the University of the West Indies (UWI). My father, an educator specialising in physics and mathematics, and my mother, a career civil servant in the financial stream, always encouraged my sister and me to excel academically and develop our talents in a wide range of extra-curricular activities. They believed that this was how we would find out what we really wanted to do in life.

During my years at Immaculate Conception High School, I learnt foreign languages easily and excelled in history and English language and literature, where essays and term papers were frequently assigned. I was at ease meeting and speaking with foreigners in Jamaica, Europe, North America, and the Caribbean, and these experiences piqued my curiosity about foreign cultures and would later serve to complement my love of languages in a way that would benefit my career.

The sweeping social and political changes in the 1970s during my teenage years gave me the burning desire to ‘do something’ to change Jamaica and the world. By far, the best years of my life were spent at UWI, where I pursued a bachelor’s in language and linguistic studies. Like my batchmates, I was ‘in my element’ learning from an interesting mix of professors from Germany, France, Spain, El Salvador, Haiti, Colombia, and Guyana. In the course of study, we were required to research foreign and local issues and to express our opinions in all of the foreign languages we were studying. We were graded for accuracy in grammar and vocabulary as well as for depth of analysis and critical thinking.

I remember my father telling me that although it was important to master the foreign languages, it was even more important for me to master the skills of critical, innovative thinking, effective communication, and the ability to quickly adapt to new business situations in order to be a successful applicant for a job. I gained all this and more during my time in the BA programme at UWI.

Beyond the academic training, there were other experiences at the UWI that were to shape my view of the world and my career. Along with my classmates, I was deeply involved in organising student-exchange programmes with the Universidad AutÛnoma de Santo Domingo, French Students’ weekend retreats, German Days, Foreign Language Students’ concerts, lectures, and language club activities with visitors from various embassies in Kingston.

Immersed in a sea of intercultural experiences, our minds were opened to diverse political thought and philosophies. As much as we learnt about other cultures, we also taught others about our own.

SOUGHT OPPORTUNITIES

Along the way, I met many people who questioned the value of studying foreign languages and an arts degree. Instead of trying to provide them with the ‘right’ answers, I actively and eagerly sought opportunities to put my training to work. I was a liaison aide at the United Nations Law of the Sea Conference and the Organization of American States General Assembly, which were hosted in Jamaica. I spent my summers as an intern at the Jamaica Tourist Board. Many people I met had studied the arts and humanities and told me how they had forged successful career paths in business, government, and international relations. I realised then that the options were many and that my proficiency in foreign languages gave me an advantage.

After university, I joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade in the Protocol and Consular Division. There, I had the opportunity to translate official documents and serve as the interpreter in meetings with very senior officials. This is where I learnt about the main issues of the day in international politics, trade, travel, tourism, and law. I observed first hand how language and communication in all its forms played into business deal-making and international relations.

With this experience, I gladly accepted new challenges to serve in the Economic and Foreign Trade Divisions in the ministry and represent Jamaica at international conferences in the Caribbean and the Americas. I witnessed the emerging trends in globalisation and the increasing role of the private sector in international trade.

I decided to do an MBA in international business and marketing at the University of Miami, where at that time, the focus was on preparing a new generation of global business leaders. This degree opened doors to a career in the private sector in Jamaica and then in Montreal, Canada, where I currently reside. My academic training in languages at the UWI continues to be of great value. I communicate daily in French, which is the language of business in Montreal, the largest city in the French Canadian province of Quebec.

My desire as a teenager “to do something” for Jamaica and the world has morphed into a career in marketing in global institutions. In the various roles I have played, I have been involved in the creation of multilingual marketing communication programmes, international trade finance and credit-risk assessment, and the development of global brands, while managing teams of persons with diverse backgrounds.

Over the years, I have been, and still am, a committed volunteer, where my training in business and in the arts has been considered to be of added value. I currently serve on the board of directors of the YWCA-Montreal, an organisation whose clientele consists of a large number of immigrants who are being equipped to become fully integrated into the society. I have been invited to write articles and speak in English and French at churches to youth groups and professional associations, mainly on topics related to personal and professional development in a multicultural society.

In a world where technological innovation is held as the gold standard for progress, and where students are encouraged to pursue purely technical degree programmes, it should never be forgotten that technology is only valuable if it meets people’s needs. Often, my colleagues and business associates who do not have any formal training in the arts and humanities express appreciation for the broader perspectives and recommendations that I have brought to technical projects, particularly with regard to clients’ needs.

I truly believe that my foundation in the arts, more specifically the degree programme at the UWI, has led me take an analytic approach that presents diverse opinions and perspectives of various stakeholders, which is critical to understanding and successfully meeting clients’ needs.

With a career spanning more than 30 years in Jamaica, the USA, and Canada, I know that I will never retire. There is so much more work to be done to make the world a better place. I am truly grateful for the education in the arts, which has shaped my view of the world and has served to support all my professional pursuits. The knowledge gained and the skills that were honed in those early years are still relevant and of value in a changing world and will continue to equip me to contribute to building a truly integrated global village.

– This article is one in a series that seeks to promote and highlight the impact of the arts and humanities on the individual’s personal development and career path. Please send feedback to fhe@uwimona.edu.jm

 

Visit camilleisaacsmorell.com

@Camille21162

See the BIG picture.  Focus on what’s important.

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“Check, double check and check again.”   This was possibly the best advice I received early in my career.

I followed through on my boss’ advice. I believe that this was the reason why it was noted on my performance evaluation that I was action-oriented and reliable without supervision.

In later years I realized that the checking, double checking and checking again advice wasn’t going to work for me or for the people I was leading.

During my very first role as a people manager, I understood that there is a fine line between being an effective leader and being a micro-manager.

Effective leaders know that they are ultimately accountable for the mandate that they have been given to deliver through the people they lead.

Micro-managers, in their zeal to produce results, get overly involved in the work of the people they lead.  These managers don’t confidently delegate and set expectations.  And when they do, they obsessively check, double check and check again on the work of their people, instead of letting their people, who are responsible for operations, implementation and deliverables, do the required checking.

I believe that micro-managers act the way they do mainly for the following reasons –

  • The fear of failure, which leads to the need to control other people’s actions
  • They don’t know how to manage any other way
  • They have an “agenda,” a personal need they want to fulfill

Here are 3 tips on how managers can avoid micro-managing, or can take to stop micro-managing and 3 tips on how employees can avoid being micro-managed.

 

The fear of failure and the need to control

For the manager –

  1. Gain clarity on the mandate you’ve been given. This means –
    • Identify the resources required – hire the right, competent people, ask for budgets
    • Set realistic expectations with your senior leadership and the people you lead on deliverables
    • Establish a formal schedule of checkpoints and accountabilities

For those being managed –

  1. Communicate confidentially with your manager to uncover the root cause of the fear of failure. This means –
    • Reassure your manager of your commitment and that you have his/her back
    • Mutually agree on how you will be accountable

 

Not knowing how to manage any other way

For the manager –

  1. Be courageous. Take feedback from your people and other managers seriously and seek ways to improve the situation.  This means –
    • Seeking mentorship and coaching from experienced, respected professionals you trust and who can help you to develop an effective leadership style.
    • Open communication in a dedicated forum (e.g. team meeting, off-site retreat) to discuss the mandated goals of the team and how team members will be empowered, engaged and held accountable.

For those being managed –

  1. Reduce your manager’s need to micro-manage. This means –
    • Proactively support your manager by honouring reporting commitments
    • Avoid surprises by forewarning your manager of possible delays and problems, and coming with suggestions for precautionary, preventive or risk reduction actions

 

The personal agenda or need the manager wants to fulfill

For the manager –

  1. Empowerment and accountability are essential for leadership success, regardless of what your personal agenda or motivation may be. Remember –
    • The mark of a great leader is the capacity to inspire and work with and through other people to achieve goals.

For those being managed –

  1. Find a way to see your manager’s “big picture” of what he or she is working towards. Observe and ask yourself a few questions –
    • What’s his or her motivation?
    • Who does he or she network with?
    • What’s his/her vision of the future role of the department or his/her leadership?

 

Important considerations

Managing people is not for everybody.  Managers who find it difficult to delegate and are caught in the micro-management trap should consider alternative leadership roles, such as an internal consultant, technical expert or advisor, and make an outstanding contribution to corporate objectives.

Moving on is an option for employees who are being micro-managed.   If excessive time and effort have to be invested in trying to understand and work with a micro-manager to the detriment of job satisfaction, engagement and optimal performance, the employee should decide whether to stay or to leave.

 

www.camilleisaacsmorell.com

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Leadership Heart

 

There are numerous definitions of “leadership.”  No matter how you look at it, leadership is really about inspiring people to achieve goals.

It takes effective leadership to successfully achieve goals, regardless of whether they are tied to revenues and profits, a desired future state of a country, implementing a new programme or promoting a cause.

Then there is the eternally debated question – “Are leaders born or made?”

While I won’t attempt to definitively answer this question, I do know that there are some people for whom inspiring others to achieve goals comes naturally.  There are others who, with coaching and formal training, perform remarkably well as strong, successful leaders.

Having served in formal leadership positions in the corporate world and in voluntary and not-for-profit organizations, I am convinced that a key determinant of success is the personal motivation to lead.

Those who aspire to leadership positions must really want to lead and must be highly motivated to achieve goals through and with the people they lead.

To determine their level of personal motivation, aspiring leaders and experienced leaders considering a new mandate, should be able to answer these two questions –

  1. Do you love power more than you care about people?
  2. Is competing for the position more important than your commitment to the cause / vision / goals ?

 

Leaders must love people more than power.

 They must be more committed to the cause than to competition.

 

Nothing is wrong with aspiring to positions of power.

In a civilized society, positions of power – whether corporate, social or political – provide opportunities for leaders to influence and create change that ultimately benefits people.  Good, ethical leaders should be motivated to aspire to positions of power because of the opportunity it affords them to help people.

Aspiring to positions of power involves competition.  Competing for a position of power should really be a healthy activity, giving aspiring candidates the opportunity to demonstrate why they should be selected to lead.

When competing against other candidates, a truly authentic leader should be able to

  • Clearly articulate his/her understanding of the vision of the future state he/she expects to create;
  • How he/she will inspire and engage others in the creation of the vision; and
  • How people will benefit from his/her leadership.

 

It’s not just about getting the leadership title,

it’s about being committed to the cause.

 

As the saying goes, “Once you’re in, you’re in.” 

Once a leader is in place, success will be largely dependent on several leadership traits.  For me, the most important is courage, both inner courage and outer courage.

Inner courage is the unwavering commitment to personal values and integrity, including the ability to honestly decide if the leadership position is the right fit and in the best interest of all concerned.

Public courage is about being prepared to make tough calls, unpopular decisions and persistent commitment, even in the face of scathing and unfair criticism.

Above all, at the heart of effective leadership is the desire and motivation to serve.  Although leaders serve by inspiring people to achieve goals, outstanding leaders always see the big picture of the overarching benefits of achieving the goals.

More important than focusing on the position of power and the process to get there, is that every aspiring leader must be even more committed to the sustainable success of the organization, people and country they intend to lead.

 

See the BIG picture.  Focus on what’s important.

www.camilleisaacsmorell.com

@Camille21162

Camille Isaacs-Morell is a proven marketing strategy and business development enabler who thrives when leading in contexts of transformation and change.  She enthusiastically seeks her next leadership challenge.

Camille was motivated to write this post in the aftermath of the Brexit campaign and the US Republican and Democratic Parties’ National Conventions.

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chiefMarketing

A few years ago, the AV-P, product development in the company where I worked, explained the role of his marketing colleagues to newly recruited employees: “Once we’ve developed the product specs, we let our marketing colleagues make them look nice.” He repeated this statement twice. As horrified as I was when I heard this, I took some cold comfort in the fact that the AV-P’s comment showed a marginally improved understanding of marketing’s role than one of his colleagues, a Senior V-P.  The SV-P questioned the need for the development of marketing collateral material or any marketing communications plan to support a soon-to-be launched product.  His view was that all the information the prospective client needed was in the mutual fund prospectus!

True it is that both V-Ps were actuaries, members of a profession not reputed to have any great understanding of marketing and the role it ought to play in business success. However, marketing communications professionals must share much of the blame for being perceived as the people who “put the lipstick on the pig.”

Marcomms professionals very often accept that it is par for the course for them to be brought in at the very end of the product development cycle to deliver a marketing plan under tight deadlines for the product launch. At this point, marketing strategies are developed under very hurried circumstances and with limited information and understanding of the product and the clients whose needs are to be met. This explains in large part, why marketing communications campaigns are perceived in many organizations as wasted effort without any proven ROI.

From my own experience and observation, marketing professionals have not done a good job of demonstrating the value they can bring to the product development process. This is particularly true in organizations where product development requires specific technical skills (e.g. actuarial sciences, risk assessment, engineering).  The development of effective marketing strategies and supporting communications plans requires a deep understanding of the competitive environment, the needs and characteristics of target clients, and the connections between corporate, business and marketing strategies of the organization. The integration of this information contributes to the development of product and service solutions with attributes that are relevant, important and are valued by the potential client. By being involved in the product development process, marketing professionals should be well placed to match product attributes and benefits to known customer needs, develop value propositions, articulate key messages, determine appropriate media channels to reach out to target client groups.  These are essential building blocks in defining the marketing communications strategy and implementation plan that create engagement and predisposition to purchase.

All of this requires marketing  professionals to go beyond the limits of creative copy writing skills and the know-how to apply brand guidelines – as important as these skills are – and embrace adjacent skills and knowledge including market research, data analytics, strategic planning, product knowledge and business acumen.

Armed with these skills, marketing professionals will likely gain credibility among their peers in the product development and corporate functions. It is up to marketers to promote the need for their early presence and involvement in the product development and strategic planning processes. Chances are that the CEO and executive leadership are not trained in marketing and much work needs to be done to educate and influence them on the critical role marketing must play in business success.

In my experience, being able to speak the same language as the CEO, CFO and SMEs has been effective in helping marketing gain in-roads to actively participate in strategic planning meetings and in product development working sessions.

  • In one case, using financial data and brand awareness metrics to demonstrate the eventual, adverse impact on revenues resulting from poorly funded advertising and marketing programmes, convinced the CFO that his team had to include Marketing in its strategic planning meetings.
  • In another case, the presentation of data on emerging market demand halted the launch of a new product, so that market research could be done to validate client profiles and test value propositions. The resulting information was used jointly by Product Development and Marketing Communications teams to adjust product specs in line with client needs.

In both cases better marketing communication strategies were developed and implemented with the right key messages, media channels and on-going engagement tactics. The resulting brand awareness and product satisfaction scores were favourable.

The following quote from management guru Peter Drucker sums up the role of marketing in business and the need for collaboration in the product development process:

“Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two–and only two–basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.”

See the BIG picture. Focus on what’s important.

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Canadian employers are facing increasingly complex human resource issues and challenges. These challenges adversely impact organizational health and productivity, which are important determinants of business success. By providing employee benefit plans, employers expect to achieve high standards of organizational health and productivity, attract and retain talented staff and maintain high levels of employee engagement. Go to any conference on employee benefits and read articles on workplace wellness, and you will see that there is ample evidence that organizations are struggling to find the ideal mix of benefits to meet the needs of their workforce and that positively impacts health and productivity.

Business leaders increasingly express the need for strategic advice and actionable solutions to these challenges without adversely impacting the financial health of their organization. Unfortunately, the need to contain costs associated with higher insurance premiums resulting from increased claims, very often drives the final decision on the range of services covered in the plan. Employers also want to see proof that there is a return on investment from ancillary services such as health and wellness / prevention and employee assistance programmes (EAPs).

A holistic approach For benefits plans to be successful, a holistic approach involving the collaboration of all service providers is likely to lead to the desired outcome of a healthy, productive workforce that supports business success. Employers, when shopping the market for benefits plans, should mandate their benefits advisors to firstly uncover the underlying reasons for higher claims that lead to increased premiums. This assessment should involve an analysis of the claims experience, the state of organizational health and wellness and patterns of absenteeism and trends that lead to short- and long-term disability. Instead of asking insurers to present a set of desired services, advisors should identify and work with insurance carriers that go beyond claims payment adjudication processes and risk assessment and that offer innovative, customizable solution sets. The specialist services of EAPs, medical clinics and paramedical service providers ought to fit with the objectives of the client and insurer and work in partnership with them.

The best designed benefits plan may fail to support the employer’s objectives if employees are unaware of the services offered, and more importantly, cannot see the connection between their daily experience at work and the desired outcomes of good organizational health and productivity that the benefits plan aims to support.

This begs the question, how can employers create an obvious connection between the benefits plan and the workplace culture?

The employer, working closely with the benefits advisor and providers, should implement activities that allow employees to collectively experience the plan in the workplace on a daily basis. More specifically, this can be done through on-site programmes in which all employees participate, and by establishing policies that support prevention and cost containment. Consider:

Mandatory business practices that support behavioural changes leading to better health

  1. Mental health and stress reduction practices like creating policies on the transmission of e-mail after business hours, and
  2. Enforcing vacation requiring that employees use vacation at least once every 12 months.
  3. Physical well-being promoted through structured physical exercise programs for employees, and
  4. Improved workstation design, and
  5. Healthy and nutritious choices in cafeterias; and
  6. On-site medical assessments to identify early signs of chronic diseases.

Communications material and tools to enable employees to make better choices when selecting options and services covered by the plan

  1. Communicate how employees can take preventive actions, and
  2. Share how to better manage prescription drug costs; and
  3. Recommend the frequency of use of some services, for example, dental checks once every 12 – 14 months instead of every six months, where possible.

Employee Assistance Programme modules that can be accessed while at work

  1. Periodic on-site seminars on issues specific to the employee profile of the company, for example, wellness promotion, work-life balance, challenges faced by the sandwich generation, etc.; and
  2. Intranet portals providing on-line resources and tools that encourage employee engagement in their health and wellness.

These recommendations call for a change in perspective from viewing a benefits plans as a health care cost to perceiving it as an important tool to support a healthy, productive team. The benefits of a thriving work culture are generally seen in better bottom line results and sustainable business success. A change in perspective in benefits plans may be well worth it! What do you think?


Camille N. Isaacs-Morell is a marketing professional who has had extensive experience in the development of marketing strategies to promote employee benefits plans. She passionately believes that employee engagement and the alignment of personal and corporate values are essential to make work a gratifying and satisfying experience. Read more at www.camilleisaacsmorell.com, www.thebigpicturecamille.wordpress.com

This blog post was originally published on www.yourworkplace.ca on 24 September 2013

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I remember well a relative commenting on being unflustered on her promotion to the position of Commissioner of Income Tax in Jamaica.  She was the first woman to be appointed to that role.   An insightful comment she made has stayed with me over the years.  She said that many women have bought into the belief perpetuated by men, that there is some mystique about senior executive leadership.  This belief has prevented many women from accepting senior appointments, particularly roles that have been traditionally dominated by men.

Then I read an article in The New York Times where Virginia M. Rometty, the first woman to be appointed as the President and CEO of IBM, recounted that early in her career she was offered a ‘big job.’  In her words, “I right away said, you know what? I’m not ready for this job. I need more time, I need more experience and then I could really do it well.”  So she told the recruiter she needed time to think about it.  That night, her husband asked her, “Do you think a man would have ever answered that question that way?”

These two cases made me ask the question – are women really not qualified or do they really think that they are not qualified to take on senior leadership roles?

In her book Les femmes au secours de l’économie, Monique  Jérome –Forget presents data that provides compelling evidence that women have the education, talents and experience that make them ready for senior leadership roles.

This being the case, why would some women feel that they are not ready for senior leadership?  Could it be that there is a mental glass ceiling that limits self-confidence, makes us risk averse and so cautious to prevent us from accepting senior leadership roles?

It is ironic that being cautious and risk-averse are the traits that are needed in boardrooms and senior executive leadership positions.   A 2004 Catalyst study of 353 Fortune 500 companies found that firms with more diversity throughout the ranks, including the presence of women, have better returns on investment.

Networking is good, but not enough

In Montreal, I am finding more networking and learning opportunities to support women who aspire to become senior leaders and board members.   In these forums women are very often exposed to successful women who demystify senior leadership and provide testimonials of how they advanced in their careers and now thrive in male-dominated corporate boardrooms.  La Gouvernance au féminin, The Y des Femmes, Premières en affaires and La Conférence régionale des élus de Montréal  through Les Cravates roses project are examples of organizations that host formal networking events and conferences that applaud the success of women leaders and encourage and help train women to aspire to leadership roles.

Without discounting the value of networking events and conferences, I would say that these activities are not enough.   There needs to be a stronger connection between these networking activities and corporate initiatives to unite efforts that encourage women to overcome the psychological insecurities that are played out in the objections they make when they are offered senior leadership opportunities.

Some suggestions to help women break the mental glass ceiling

  • Corporations with formal policies on diversity and the development of leadership talent should establish formal partnerships with business networks and forums that support the advancement of women.   In this way professional women can identify corporations that provide formal support for women aspiring to senior leadership positions and explore opportunities for advancement in these companies.
  • When identifying their most promising leadership talent, corporations should ensure that they include rotation programs that provide exposure to all aspects of the business and in so doing, help demystify senior leadership roles in departments that have traditionally been led by men.
  • Externalize the values of the company by encouraging employees to accept volunteer leadership positions on the boards of professional associations, interest groups and non-profit organizations that share the same values of the company.  In this way, women gain experience in governance and leadership and expand their network and professional profile in a way that is beneficial to their career and the organizations in which they serve.
  • Corporations should establish programs that encourage employees to broaden their exposure to the experiences of other professionals by having internal and external mentors.  Corporations should not see the pairing of employees with external mentors as “training for the competition.”  Great workplaces attract, engage and retain the best employees, who won’t leave if they‘re able to see possibilities for advancement based on merit.
  • Women also need to make the effort to push beyond their comfort zone and break through the confines of their mental glass ceiling.  On this point, the advice of Marissa Mayer – CEO of Yahoo! is relevant:  “I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this,’ and you push through those moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough. Sometimes that’s a sign that something really good is about to happen. You’re about to grow and learn a lot about yourself.”

A final word on the real corporate glass ceiling

I would not want to leave readers with the impression that all women have a mental glass ceiling that makes them reluctant to accept senior leadership positions.  As Monique Jerome-Forget points out in her book, the corporate glass ceiling does exist.  It is where there is a startling reduction in the percentage of women in the senior leadership and board membership roles.  A 2013 Catalyst report indicates that women make up 47% of the workforce, nearly 37% of management positions but only 18% of senior leadership roles and 14.5% of board memberships.

The data clearly shows us that much work must be done by corporations to encourage and promote women to senior positions and in so doing, we all benefit from the talent, education and skills of women.  I will end my post with a quote from Catalyst’s Women in Leadership report:

“High-potential women advance more slowly than their male peers, in terms of both career progression and pay, even though they employ career management strategies similar to men’s. Organizations that neglect this critical talent-management issue risk lagging their competitors in attracting, developing, and retaining the best candidates to serve as the next generation of leaders.”

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Empathy

A few years ago, I respected the request of a team member to go home at the drop of a cat. Yes, you read it correctly, at the drop of a cat. A fifty-something male member of my team stood teary-eyed in front of me and asked if he could go home to comfort his son who called to say that the family’s pet cat of 13 years was dying. Realizing that my team member was too distraught to complete an important report that we were set to discuss that afternoon, I let him go home and at the same time, I said that I would reschedule our meeting for the following day. In this situation, there was a healthy dose of empathy, balanced with the commitment to get the work done.

Empathy is that trait that allows you to understand the other person’s perspective, even if you don’t necessarily agree with their point of view or emotional response to a situation. As workplaces become more team oriented, cross-functional and dependent on communications technology, leaders are challenged to balance empathy with the ability to make decisions that benefit the company’s human and financial capital.

Listen carefully

Experience has taught me that empathy involves active listening to what is being said, how it is being said and why it is being said. Empathy requires us to get to know employees, their professional aspirations, perspectives, cultural differences and experiences that shape who they are and what they bring to the job and the team.

Armed with this understanding, I have come to realize that setting healthy emotional and professional boundaries with others strikes the right balance between empathy and the ability to make sound management decisions.

Set healthy boundaries

Healthy emotional and professional boundaries involve giving appropriate empathetic responses without compromising the commitment to deliver corporate mandates. Some guiding principles I follow are provided below:

  • Never play psychologist to a distraught employee. Offer help by referrals to employee assistance programmes (EAP)
  • Set limits on the frequency and time to hear complaints
  • Mutually agree and commit to specific actions to resolve issues and problems in the workplace
  • Accommodate professional preferences (e.g. assign special projects) without compromising on requiring the delivery of core mandates
  • When making a special concession, be clear about the conditions – e.g. extra time off for personal reasons should be made up at a specific time in the future
  • Be respectful about conflicting opinions, but establish the final decision and move on
  • Respect employees who want to have only a professional relationship and are not interested in social interactions, as long as it does not disrupt team-building and teamwork

This post was prepared for Your Workplace and was published in YW blog posts on 5 December 2012.

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