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This is your source for principles to communicate, engage, and lead with greater impact. The Engaging Leader podcast, blog, videos, and more will help you inspire trust, passion, and action!

fully-chargedBeing an engaging leader starts with engaging your own work and life optimally. When you are fully charged, you get more done, your mind is sharp and creative, you feel fully alive – and you are a better leader, parent, spouse, and friend. Does that happen by accident, or are there specific actions that create this daily charge?

Tom Rath is a research scientist with The Gallup Organization who has spent his entire career studying workplace engagement, health, and well-being. He last joined us in Engaging Leader episode 58 to discuss his bestselling book Eat Move Sleep. His newest book is Are You Fully Charged? 3 Keys to Energizing Your Work and Life. (Tom joins us today to discuss the most proven and practical strategies to help you be fully charged – and to help you teach and coach the people you lead to be fully charged too.) According to Rath’s latest research, three key conditions differentiate days when you have a full charge:

  • Meaning: doing something today that makes a positive difference, especially if it benefits another person
  • Interactions: creating far more positive than negative moments
  • Energy: making choices that improve your mental and physical health

Jesse and Tom discuss proven and practical tips in all three areas to help you be fully charged – and to help you teach and coach the people you lead to be fully charged too.

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8 Key Skills of Empathy

by Jesse Lahey on May 13, 2015

Male and female thinking together on th blackboard background

We are not thinking machines. We are feeling machines who think. ~Richard Restak, George Washington University neurology professor

As leaders, we need to make emotional connections with our target audience if we hope to influence their thoughts and actions. One very important way to connect positively with people is with what I call powerful empathy.

Juan was planning to present recommendations to his CEO and two other senior leaders about the company’s medical benefits program. He had invited three people (two of whom were external consultants) to help make the presentation. While having multiple advisors can be wise, I was concerned that Juan would appear weak by needing so many advisors for the presentation. Also, too many voices would make it difficult to achieve the meeting’s objectives in the allotted time.

Rather than simply pointing out the danger of inviting all three advisors, I asked him to help me understand the thinking behind his meeting plans. Why did he want to include each person? How would each one help him achieve his objectives? When he was able to completely express his thoughts, and I was able to fully understand his thoughts and feelings, it was easy to reach the mutual decision to bring only one advisor – the program’s medical director.

Understanding the thoughts and feelings of another person may sound tough if you don’t consider yourself an empathetic person.

The good news is that empathy doesn’t have to be something you’re born with. It involves skills that you can develop through intentionality and practice.

Here are eight key empathy skills you can practice to improve your ability to connect with others:

  • Curiosity: Take the time to be curious about what other people think. Try to fully understand their point of view.
  • Authentic Listening: Most people don’t truly listen. Stop planning what you are going to say, and focus on really hearing their thoughts and feelings.
  • Repeating and Paraphrasing: Try to tell them what you heard them say, in your own words, so they can correct any misinterpretation or confirm that you heard them correctly.
  • Imagination: Think about what it would be like to be in their shoes. What if you woke up one morning and found you had switched places in life with them?
  • Open-Mindedness: Allow yourself to be influenced by their thoughts and feelings. Almost no one does this, but it is key if you want to inspire people to be open to your own influence.
  • Vulnerability: Respectfully share your reactions and feelings about what the other person is saying, with the intent to confirm that you are fully understanding them.
  • Self-Awareness: Understand how your emotions or feelings may be affecting your thoughts and reactions.
  • Sensitivity to Others’ Emotions: Develop your “emotional radar” to pick up on what people are feeling by watching their body language and facial expressions, and listening not only to their words, but to any “between the lines” meaning in the event they are not being direct and transparent.

While some of these empathy skills may not come naturally to you, the more you practice the better you will become – and the more easily you will be able to connect with and influence people.

Other resources about powerful empathy:

Jesse Lahey, SPHR, is the host of the podcasts Engaging Leader and Workforce Health Engagement, and he is CEO (chief engagement officer) of Aspendale Communications. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. If you know anyone who would benefit from this information, please share it!


GC30: The Game of Benefits | with Dr. Ann Clark and Erin Krehbiel of ACI/MacroLife

May 7, 2015

Gamification and mobile technology can both make it easier for employees to use their benefits, and provide the motivation to make it want they want to do. In past episodes of Game Changer, we’ve looked at some gamified applications related to certain health benefits – such as episode 3 with UnitedHealth, episode 7 with Movable, […]

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How to Use the Two Tools of Powerful Empathy to Engage People

May 6, 2015

As you probably already know, yawns are contagious. Right now, the image below is causing many of you to feel the need to yawn. This even works with animals. A study by the University of London observed that 21 of 29 dogs yawned when a stranger yawned in front of them. Why? The answer is […]

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111: Getting Things Done (GTD) for Leaders | with David Allen

May 1, 2015

Being an engaging leader starts with engaging your own work and life optimally. Five years ago, Jesse had given up on the umpteenth system he’d tried for organization and productivity. As he went back to the drawing board, he discovered that a new approach had taken the world by storm. It was called Getting Things […]

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WHE22: How Wellbeing Engagement Trumps Wellness | with Doug Stover from Gallup

April 29, 2015

According to The Gallup Organization, only 24% of employees at companies that offer a wellness program actually participate in it. What’s more, only 12% of employees strongly agree that they have substantially higher overall wellbeing because of their employer. Today we’ll discuss what’s wrong with the traditional approach to workplace wellness, and how your organization […]

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One Drive to Rule Them All: To Lead Progress, Target the Right Motivator

April 29, 2015

Every organizational leader can learn a lesson from the science behind employee gamification, which is the use of game-inspired tactics to engage employees. As with any initiative a leader undertakes, the purpose of gamification is implemented to create some sort of change or progress. For example, the primary objective may be: Increase employee referrals for […]

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Say This, Not That! Tips to Improve Workforce Health Engagement

April 23, 2015

At most organizations, a workforce health strategy includes communication and education to motivate and equip employees and their families to reduce health risks, improve wellbeing, and prevent the development of serious (and expensive) health problems. But according to research scientist Tom Rath, the typical health messages aren’t very effective in motivating people on an ongoing […]

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110: Turning Followers into Leaders | with David Marquet

April 15, 2015

How do you move people from being passive followers doing what they were told, to becoming proactive, engaged leaders themselves? We’ll give you a hint: It’s not about being visionary or giving the right orders. David Marquet is the author of Turn the Ship Around!: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders. David was […]

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GC29: GamifiKaizen: Using gamification for continuous improvement | with Gal Rimon of GamEffective

April 7, 2015

Longtime listeners of Game Changer know that gamification isn’t about rewards and competition. The most effective gamification makes use of intrinsic drivers to engage employees. GamEffective strives to be the “Fitbit of work,” taking the place of traditional performance management, feedback, and even continuous improvement practices such as kaizens. Gal Rimon is CEO of GamEffective, […]

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109: Act Like a Leader. Think Like a Leader. | with Herminia Ibarra

April 1, 2015

It’s sort of a chicken-or-the-egg question. To take your next step toward great leadership, do you start with introspection and learning to think like a leader? Or do you put yourself into positions where you are forced to learn by doing? Most leadership books and courses give you one answer. But a contrarian and counter-intuitive […]

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WHE21: Can Behavioral Economics Solve Your Company’s Health Care Problems? | with Derek Yach from Vitality Institute

March 24, 2015

A recent study found that the U.S. lags behind other countries in improving disease prevention and life expectancy. America’s weak link? The workplace, according to the study. But it’s also one of the easiest to strengthen, and the workplace provides a unique platform for engaging people to adopt healthier habits. In particular, the still-evolving field […]

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