Empathy in Action: Why Tech Executives Need to Lead with Care

As the CEO and co-founder of Technology Partners, I’ve navigated the complexities of running a tech company alongside my husband, Greg since 1994.

Our story began with a simple idea and a leap of faith. When Greg developed software as a side project, he turned to me for help with marketing and sales. Little did we know that this humble beginning would evolve into Technology Partners, a thriving IT consulting and staffing firm. From those early days of collaboration, we learned the power of partnership and the importance of leading with care.

Empathy has always been at the heart of our leadership philosophy. In a fast-paced industry driven by innovation and competition, it’s easy to lose sight of the human element. But true leadership requires more than just technical expertise; it requires understanding, compassion, and a willingness to listen. That’s why Greg and I have made it our mission to lead with care, both in our business and in our personal lives.

In my speaking engagements and podcast, I often discuss the concept of inclusive innovation. It’s about recognizing the inherent value that everyone brings to the table and fostering an environment where everyone feels empowered to contribute their unique talents. As I often say, “Each one of us was created with ‘something extra.’” Embracing diversity isn’t just the right thing to do. It’s a strategic advantage that fuels creativity and innovation.

Struggling to find the empathy to lead well? You’re not alone. Here are some tips to connect with your team on a deeper level:

Practice Active Listening: Cultivate the skill of active listening by giving your full attention to others, maintaining eye contact, and validating their feelings. By demonstrating empathy through attentive listening, you can better understand the perspectives and emotions of those around you, fostering deeper connections and building trust within your team.

Empathy Mapping: Develop empathy mapping exercises to understand the needs, motivations, and pain points of your team members and stakeholders. This involves putting yourself in their shoes and considering their feelings, thoughts, and experiences to inform decision-making and leadership strategies, ultimately leading to more inclusive and empathetic leadership practices.

Lead by Example: Lead with authenticity and vulnerability, sharing your own experiences and emotions with your team. By modeling empathetic behavior and showing vulnerability, you create a culture where others feel safe to express themselves and seek support when needed, fostering a more supportive and compassionate work environment.

Prioritize Mental Health Support: Advocate for mental health resources and support within your organization. At Technology Partners, we pay for a chaplain to be available on premises or virtual, depending on our employees’ needs. In addition, our human resources team provides basic mental health training. Recognize the importance of mental well-being in the workplace and encourage open discussions about mental health to reduce stigma and promote a supportive environment where employees feel valued and supported.

Emotional Intelligence Resources: Invest in emotional intelligence resources for yourself and your team to enhance self-awareness, self-regulation, social awareness, and relationship management skills. I have hosted many EQ experts on the Something Extra podcast and we encourage our people to learn more from recommended books and thought leaders.  By improving emotional intelligence, you can better understand and navigate interpersonal dynamics, leading to more empathetic and effective leadership, ultimately fostering stronger relationships, and driving better outcomes for your organization.

Our journey as tech executives hasn’t been without its challenges. We’ve faced setbacks, made mistakes, and encountered obstacles along the way. But through it all, we’ve remained committed to our values and our vision for a more inclusive and compassionate tech industry.

By leading with empathy and care, we’ve built a company culture where everyone feels valued and supported, and where innovation thrives.

As Greg and I have learned through our own experiences, true leadership requires empathy in action. It’s about recognizing the unique strengths and perspectives of each individual and creating a workplace where everyone can thrive. Together, we can build a more diverse, inclusive, and innovative tech industry for the future.

Lisa Nichols is the CEO and co-founder of Technology Partners, a privately held business in St. Louis specializing in premier technology staffing, solutions, and leadership development since 1994. The company has earned accolades such as Top Workplace and Best of Staffing Diamond Status. Lisa inspires others to embrace their unique qualities, coined as their “something extra,” and has expanded her influence through the Something Extra podcast.

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