Earn their respect

Leadership needs these 2 things 

Empathy and vision.  

It is also a case that empathy and toughness are not incompatible! 

This is an extract from The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene - I recommend you get this book! It is available on Audible - a great way to enjoy the contents.


This is a really good book. Okay, it's big, but you can get it on Audible and listen to it as you're running, walking, or going for car journeys, to meetings. Much recommended. I was doing some research for a talk I'm ... It's on my talk list, and I'm just prepping it for delivery at the end of this month. It's about the double bind, actually, which is a particular thing for females in business, particularly in leadership positions or getting to leadership positions. But it's also about getting that strong, warm balance, which is applicable to all genders, so this isn't just a female thing.

 I'm about to read a little extract from this book, which seeks to demonstrate ... And it's actually just told a story about Queen Elizabeth I, but I won't go into that, but it's brilliant. It seeks to demonstrate how toughness and empathy are not incompatible. If you'll indulge me, and there is a transcript to go with this video, I will just read this extract. Get a cup of coffee. Press pause, get a cup of coffee, and sit down and enjoy.

The Extract – from The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene

                             "We must see leadership as a dynamic relationship we have with those being led. We have to understand that our slightest gesture has an unconscious effect on individuals, and so we must pay great attention to our attitude, to the tone that we set. We need to attune ourselves to the shifting moods of the members of the group. We must never assume we have their support. Our empathy must be visceral. We can feel when members are losing respect for us. As part of the dynamic, we need to realise that when we show our respect and trust toward those below us, such feelings will flow back to us. The members will open up to our influence. We must try as much as possible to engage people's willpower, to make them identify with the group's mission, to want to actively participate in realising our higher purpose.

                             "This empathy, however, must never mean becoming needlessly soft and pliant to the group's will. That will only signal weakness. When it comes to our primary task, that of providing a vision for the group and leading it toward the appropriate goals, we would be stern and immovable. Yes, we can listen to the ideas of others and incorporate the good ones, but we must keep in mind that we have a greater command of the overall details and global picture. We must not succumb to political pressures to seem fairer, and so dilute our vision. This vision of ours is beyond politics. It represents truth and reality. We have to be resilient and tough when it comes to realising it, and merciless with those who try to sabotage this vision or work against the greater good. Toughness and empathy are not incompatible, as Queen Elizabeth I demonstrated.

                             "When leaders fail to establish these twin pillars of authority, vision and empathy, what often happens is the following. Those in the group feel the disconnect and distance between them and leadership. They know that deep down they are viewed as replaceable pawns. They sense the overall lack of direction and the constant tactical reactions to events. And so, in subtle ways, they begin to feel resentful and to lose respect. They listen less attentively to what such leaders say. They spend more hours in the day thinking of their own interests and future. They join or form factions. They work at half or three-quarter speed.

                             "If such leaders, sensing all of this, become more forceful and demanding, the members become more passive-aggressive. If the leaders become pliant and plead for more support, the members feel even less respect, as if the group were now leading the leader. In this way, the members create endless forms of friction for leaders, who might now feel like they have to drag the group up a hill. This friction, caused by their own inattentiveness, is why so many leaders get so little done and are so mediocre.

                             "On the other hand, if we intuitively or consciously follow the path of establishing authority, as described above, we have a much different effect on the group dynamic. The ambivalence of the members or the public does not go away, that would violate human nature, but it becomes manageable. People will still waver and have moments of doubt or envy, but they will be more quick to forgive us for any mistakes and move past their suspicions. We have established enough trust for that to happen. Besides, the members have come to dread what could occur if we no longer were the leaders. The disunity, the lack of clarity, the bad decisions. Their need for us is too strong. Now we are no longer dealing with the invisible friction from the group, but the opposite. The members feel engaged in the larger mission."


                             That's quite a dollop of stuff to take in, which is why I put a transcript with this video. But honestly, this book is so worthwhile. I really would recommend getting it on Audible, if you subscribe to Audible, because it's brilliantly narrated, actually. I'm not quite sure who it is doing the reading, but he's got just the right kind of voice, really makes it clear. And there is so much storytelling in it. It talks about all sorts of famous characters from history. Queen Elizabeth I is one, but there are people like Coco Chanel, Martin Luther King, all sorts.

                             It just brings out all sorts of fascinating stuff that is relevant to all of us, because it's about human nature. The more we understand human nature, our own and that of others, and what we have in common, and how we have the power to utilise this human nature to sort of weave and dip and dive and be strategic with it, the more wonderful life is, to be honest, and the more successful we can become, and enjoy it, too.

                             So, book recommendation, a little bit of an extract for you to mull over. Any comments always welcome. Let me know, if you buy the book, what you think of it. It is a bit heavy, but looks good on the shelf.

Trisha Lewis Communication Coach

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Trisha Lewis

I help people become more effective communicators through the kind of coaching that offers a safe space to explore and rehearse and better understand the impact they have. My blog is full of insights and tactics that will help you break down the barriers that prevent you from being a truly effective communicator. These insights are based on my own experience as well as the issues raised during coaching sessions and workshops.