- Be a continuous learner – what got you into the CRO role won’t keep you there.
- Create a culture of innovation – willingness to try new things without the fear of failure.
- Demonstrate teamwork and camaraderie – people will watch and observe your behavior before they act.
- Focus on the people – this means getting to know your colleagues beyond their quotas.
- Be authentic – this equals consistency and predictability. Wild mood swings are often due to people transitioning from their “real” self to their created façade.
- Be vulnerable – show you’re human, it’s okay.
- Confront reality – denial wrecks your credibility. Quotas are huge, don’t act like they’re no big deal.
- Provide a path to success – it may be a difficult path but a path none the less. Remember, the leader’s job is to provide the vision…the possibilities.
- Be honest – shoot straight, share what you can, not only what you must.
- Always have an active ear – listen…actively. People want to know how much you care before caring about how much you know.
- Never surprise your boss – understand what’s important to the CEO and how/when to best communicate.
- Be deliberate in your actions – an environment of uncertainty is a byproduct of hedging bets. Your team will know if you’re not all in.
- Be kind – nothing in this job should justify taking someone’s dignity.
- Be gracious – say thank you. Give credit and recognize people consistently.
- Look for the good – every day find a good deed, or success from a colleague, and then share it.
- Know your numbers – where are you this month to quota, next month, and quarter standings.
- Know your business – what external factors may arise to get in the way of achieving your goals and those of your colleagues?
- Always be planning – “In preparing for battle I have always found plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower
- Stay fit – CROs tend to be the heartbeat of a company. Work hard to have and maintain a healthy heartbeat.
- Always, always, remember (and thank) those who helped you arrive – family, friends, former bosses, mentors. No one gets to where they’re going totally alone
Today’s life events, and their impacts, are taking up more, and more, mind space of our colleagues – perhaps more so than in the past 20 years. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Consumer Price Index rose 7.9% from February 2021 through February 2022, with inflation hitting its highest number since 1982. With typical gas prices well over $4.00 a gallon, and in some parts of the country now breaching $6.00 a gallon, people across the board are feeling the stress. Adding onto the financial impacts the average American is experiencing, is the weight of global uncertainty as it relates to the stability of peace.
Workers in every company, in every job, have a lot on their minds. To ignore or dismiss the impact these emotions and experiences are having on your colleagues lives is shortsighted. This is where leadership empathy becomes critical.
Empathy is an often-misunderstood skill. It amazes me how many people still confuse empathy with sympathy. The dictionary defines sympathy as feeling sorry for someone’s loss, trouble, or grief, while empathy is understanding another person’s experiences or emotions.
Empathy allows us to place ourselves in someone else’s shoes in order to connect and understand, with the goal of bridging gaps. This skill requires strong active listening skills, broad perspectives, and structured thinking. Empathy is not about excusing, as much as it is about recognizing circumstance(s). It’s less about lecturing and more about solutioning. True empathy leads to better connections, better relationships, and stronger bonds of trust.
I often think of the famous quote, “people don’t care about how much you know, until they know how much you care.”. The ability to demonstrate empathy, especially during troubling times, is a trust enabler. Of course, that assumes that the empathy being demonstrated is real…genuine.
Empathy allows leaders to engage with their teams to recognize the current external inputs each of us is facing today and how it may be impacting our colleague’s behaviors, outcomes, or productivity. Creating and maintaining a high performing team requires many skills, with empathy being at the top of the list. Recognize the intensity of incoming signals your teammates are absorbing today and look for ways to bridge the gaps. The most important signal you can send to your team is that you too are human.