For today’s Monday Morning Mojo, I am writing about the topic of empathy at the recommendation of my childhood friend and classmate, Dr. Fawn Coffey Ukpolo.
To start off, given this will be the last post of 2023 and we are discussing empathy, let’s get into the mood with a rendition of the classic song by Randy Newman, “Human Kindness”, sung by Newman himself at his induction ceremony to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 10 years ago.
Earlier this month Fawn wrote to me this message:
“Scott, just a request, can you write a few pieces on the subject of empathy at different levels of leadership. For example, a business owner may come back from vacation and begin showing pictures of the trip to their employees. The very people who kept their business going while they were on vacation. Many of them can’t even afford to go on a vacation maybe due to their current pay situation (could you imagine living off even $10 an hour)? Many don’t have healthcare, but they pay taxes for welfare recipients to have healthcare. Seeing the boss’ pictures, or new car, or whatever, is lack of empathy.
The workforce is shrinking because people are working for themselves. My son left a job as an accountant after the pandemic and turned into New Orleans’ top sport photographer. Young people don’t want to work for anyone who doesn’t care enough about them to give them a decent wage.
So, working on empathy at the top level is key. I used to ask my students if the quarterback could hike the ball to himself, catch it, throw it, receive it, and score, all while blocking for himself? No! That’s why quarterbacks always thank their team. Today’s leaders need to show and have more empathy for the people who are making them rich.”
Empathy, Communications & Leadership
Fawn, I can’t say it any better than you just did, and I love the quarterback metaphor. I spent my life in the communications industry, and the first step in being a great communicator is to understand and relate to the audience you are communicating with.
Empathy, in my opinion, is not just needed at the leadership level, although we need to learn from great, empathetic leaders, but we need greater empathy in all aspects of life. I fear in our increasingly polarized world, common care, concern, decency, and awareness, take a back seat to “one upmanship”. That’s a problem. Taking the time to be just a little more aware or empathic can go a long way in bridging divides.
Elvis on Empathy
Reminds me of this Elvis hit back in the 1970s.
Simon Sinek On Empathy
If you have the time, Simon Sinek is an author and inspirational speaker on all topics of leadership, and he talks about empathy in respect to leadership and perspective. This is a great clip to end the year on if you have a spare 22 minutes. It is worth the watch, particularly if you want to connect better with people.
A Final 2023 Thank You
Thank you, Fawn, or Dr. Coffey-Upkolo, for recommending such a great topic. Congratulations on all of your huge accomplishments in education and your recent marriage. Thank you for your service to this country, for your positivity and for your coaching in how to get in better shape!!!
And thank you to this Monday Morning Mojo community for your time in reading this blog and sharing your views. Wishing everyone a very happy holidays! We’ll be back at you on Monday, January 1, 2024 to kick off an even better year ahead.
Onwards and upwards.