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Unlocking the Power of Empathy


Water colour painting with people holding hands and offering assistance holding an umbrella over one person. Concept of care and empathy.

Empathetic leadership is a crucial trait for leaders to demonstrate to build stronger teams. Leaders who possess empathy have the ability to understand and share the feelings of their team members, which allows them to establish strong relationships built on trust, respect and transparency.


Empathetic leaders are able to connect with their team members on a deeper level, and this helps them to identify and address challenges or issues that may be affecting team morale or performance.


We also know that empathy also helps leaders to create a positive work environment where everyone feels valued and supported. We can easily see how this fosters leaders to inspire and motivate their team members to achieve their full potential and an opportunity for people to feel their best each day, while also fostering a culture of kindness, compassion, and understanding within the workplace.


In a recent training session, one of our participants was sharing about Balint groups and how they’ve adopted it in their workplace which supports an empathetic leadership journey.

Let me explain. According to the Balint Society founded in 1969, a Balint Group is a structured small-group educational approach to understanding the doctor-patient relationship and the emotional dynamics that occur in a clinical setting. This approach was developed by Michael Balint who was a psychoanalyst and general practitioner.


As he began practicing in this manner, he would have a small group of clinicians between 6 and 10 members, once a month to present anonymized cases from their own practices. The cases were typically focused on the clinician’s emotional responses to their patients, rather than solely focusing on the medical aspects of the case.


The group comes together to engage in discussion led by a facilitator who then helps the group explore the emotions and dynamics that occur in the doctor-patient relationship. The goal of the Balint group was to help clinicians better understand and manage the emotional aspects of their work, improve their communication with patients and reduce burnout. This type of approach provides a supportive environment for clinicians to share their experiences and emotions with a safe group of peers, learn from others, ask questions and gain new insights into their own practice.


Balint groups have evolved to be used across various industries and make for a great leadership practice.


We’ve seen burnout levels continue to rise not only amongst teams but leadership as well.

  1. Higher pressure and demands that become emotionally taxing

  2. Increased responsibility and accountability as staffing changes continue to be a challenge

  3. Longer hours and higher workloads leading to exhaustion

  4. Lack of support and resources making jobs more difficult and stressful

  5. Poor balance between work and home life making it hard to relax and recharge


To support your leadership team, take the time to evaluate if Balint groups could be a valuable practice. Could you spare one hour a month to bring all your leaders together to discuss each other’s challenges (anonymously) and discuss solutions? Would this ease stress and burden to have your leadership team demonstrating they have your back? Seeking support when needed and expanding to see different perspectives is something we all need to keep work human in difficult times.

 

A TEAM HUMAN CONVERSATION

Fight workplace zombies in your organization and join Team Human! Gather a group of fellow workplace zombie hunters to discuss our most recent blog post. Use the questions below to kick start your conversation.

  1. What value do you bring to others? How does this make a difference?

  2. What is one thing that you can do to support your team more when they are faced with challenges?

  3. What can you do to encourage others to feel confident sharing their strengths and values with others on the team?

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