When people were sent home to work, some leaders were thrown from their comfort zone. The ability to watch their team so closely and micro-manage in a way they understood had vanished overnight. The office culture and dynamics had gone up in smoke and for some, this could not have come soon enough.
Leaders were forced to see the world that their staff occupied when not at work, maybe caring for a sick relative, child obligations all became clearer as they saw into their lives through the power of Zoom. Many leaders had no choice but to stand in the shoes of their employees and the world they occupied. What it bought was a level of empathy throughout leadership that we have not seen previously. Yes, it was forced but for most, it was very much overdue. We all know that when something happens for long enough it becomes a new habit and I would predict that empathy in leadership is here to stay.
Where kindness comes from
Empathy is one of the seven core values that embody kindness in leadership as laid out in my book, A Culture of Kindness. I also state within it that as a society and in the history of kindness it is when our backs are against the wall, that we really embody kindness and this would certainly demonstrate that.
Tough conversations have been had. People have been let go, hours have been cut, challenges have been overcome and this has bought the best leaders and companies to the forefront.
We have had nowhere to hide as working cultures are bought to the surface. Culture can no longer be something that just evolves as it has before, put down to chance. Each workplace recognises that as we move into a new world of work and life that we must be deliberate about laying the foundations for the way we work.