What Does It Mean to Be a Manager Today? | Harvard Business Review

Leadership & Culture

This article argues how firms can help managers develop a new set of skills to succeed in this new business environment. The current and future business context calls for the “empathetic manager” – one who focuses less on what employees are doing and more on understanding how they feel. This manager type contextualizes performance and behavior — transcends simply understanding the facts of work and proactively asks questions and seeks information to place themselves in their direct reports’ contexts. The article provides ideas on how firms can help managers develop their empathy. One example is Zillow, where the firm creates cohorts of managers who engage in rotating one-on-one conversations with their peers. This tactic offers managers an opportunity to practice vulnerable conversations in a psychologically safe environment with peers who are less likely to pass judgment. Further, managers are not as likely to feel isolated given that they are practicing empathy with a cohort of peers who are working on developing the same skill. The authors provide other tactics for helping managers to develop and practice empathy.

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