Source | www.leadershipfirst.net | Gifford Thomas
On rainy Tuesday afternoon, my 31-year-old wife died after battling stage 4 lung cancer for the past four and a half years. In her last days, the treatments weren’t working, and the pain got worse by the minute. It was so painful watching someone you love so much having to endure that kind of suffering, and I was powerless to help in any way. I sat on a chair with my hands on my head, tears running down my face, trying to be strong for my two young children, thinking about a line or a sentence that could explain the death of their mother.
The whole experience was so emotionally draining, I often wonder why; why is this happening to my wife, and by extension, my family. But despite the challenges, my CEO and my staff were very supportive. They took up my responsibilities, and this allowed me to deal with my wife’s illness full time. If I didn’t have that support from my team and my CEO, God knows how I was going to make it.
I read that story and it reinforce my love for great leadership and their ability to connect with their employees professionally and personally. Inspirational leaders always reinforced the collective responsibility and go out of their way to ensure their team has the necessary support when needed. Many companies are void of this; I can remember reading an article where the author was sharing her story when her father died; she said after a week her manager told her “you need to get over this everyone dies” it’s truly amazing what some people have to endure.
The core foundational trait of any leader is empathy and their ability to place themselves in their employee’s situations to feel what their people are feeling. It requires some serious soul searching and a change of thinking to practice empathy, which, by the way, is still considered a “not so important trait” for many people who are reasonable for managing and leading people.