Why all successful leaders need empathy

A successful leader displays empathy, understanding, honest communication and a positive mindset, says leadership expert Paul Migus.

Paul Migus is an authentic, servant leader who has had an incredible career spanning across international politics, government, business management and more.

With expertise in strategic leadership advice, strategic portfolio management and senior executive change leadership, Paul understands the leadership qualities needed to help teams prosper in any situation.

Paul told KnowHow founder Bushy Martin on the Get Invested podcast that great leadership is firstly about authentically connecting with your team and colleagues.

“I think that leadership is very much about empathy, which is empathising with what’s really going on with the majority of people that are out in the community. (Thinking about) how do you build trust and confidence so that people believe you and have confidence that what you’re sharing with them is in their best interests,” Paul said.

“It’s not just telling them good news stories or trying to change the channel with another crisis or another headline which obfuscates the real situation that you’re facing. But how do you actually create positive change that impacts on people’s lives?”

Paul said female leaders typically embody these traits best.

“I think women bring different skill sets in terms of empathy and compassion. I think they’re very articulate,” Paul said.

“They bring a different skill set in terms of how they look at the world and how to change the world. I think the more that we have an open society like that, and that includes the different ethnic organisations and the concept of multiculturalism, these different views of the world makes up stronger, not weaker.”

But Paul says it takes more than empathy – influential leaders will also take the time to listen and understand where people want to get to in their lives.

“[I look at] what would they like to achieve? Looking at the potential they have and reaching out to them to be able to find ways and means to bring that out,” Paul said.

“It’s not being easy on them from the point of view of I never mollycoddle anybody. Work is very serious. But I do respect the individual initiative. I respect truth to power. But you’ve got to earn the respect. It doesn’t come on a plate.”

With understanding and listening comes open, two-way communication, and Paul believes it’s vital to have honest, robust conversations with people.  

“Not everybody likes truth to power or doesn’t like truth period. If they think they’re doing a super job and they’re really screwing up, they’ve got to know. You’ve got to tell them,” Paul said.

“So it’s been both ways. I tell it as I see it and I expect that from my superiors to do the same for me. And they have. I’ve had people that have admired me and I’ve had people that hated my guts. And that’s good to know, too, because at least you know where you stand and you know when it’s time to move on.” 

Beyond these qualities, Paul says adopting a positive mindset is pertinent to being a successful leader.

For challenging situations, Paul recommends his philosophy of ‘if another human being can do it, I can do it’.

“So the concept of ‘can’t do’ is not in the vocabulary. It’s a question of ‘how to?’ and there’s many ways of learning how to do that or finding people that will help you to do that,” he said.

“That’s part of it, realising that you can’t do everything on your own. And you start building a network of people that have the expertise and the experience to be able to teach and mentor you.

“I’ve had some great mentors in my life. And by the same token, I’ve had the privilege of mentoring a lot of smart young, people into careers that are now deputy ministers at this point in time in the government.”

So, by having belief in yourself and a commitment to success, Paul said you can weather the COVID-19 storm and prosper in the long term future.

“We have been through worse. I think I’d have to say you can’t be afraid because we’ve ridden through wars and other pandemics collectively. I believe that as a society, as people, we can overcome so many obstacles if we work together,” Paul said.

“That requires a tremendous amount of trust in each other and interest in our leaders. And we have to do what’s right, not what feels good … and it’s got to be right for not just yourself, but for the people around you. Keep them safe.

“Ground yourself. And the key values of what makes generosity, respect to help each other, values like truth, working hard, and just the sheer resilience that we are able to get through this and we will get out on the other end and we will be stronger for it.”

Listen to the full interview here.

Want to Know How you can build wealth with the help of leading, qualified experts? Talk to the team at KnowHow, now.

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