Do you know how easy it is to use a rice cooker?

Here’s all you need to do to feed 5 people with rice.Photo Rice cooker

Just add 4 cups of rice and 5 cups of water and then switch the rice cooker on. It’s that easy. The rice is ready in 15 minutes.

My family have had a rice cooker for 2 years and until last week I had never used it. I’d never had to. My wife is the master chef in our house.

If pushed I could whip up a few fairly average dishes for the family, but nothing really of any substance.

Last week my wife took a well-earned break and went to Bali for a Yoga retreat. She won the week off, all expenses paid, for being the NRG Solutions employee of the year last year. That meant that I was left on duty with my 3 kids. It’s amazing what you learn, and how quickly you can learn when you have no choice.

It was a pretty tough week for me.I had never really appreciated how much work is involved on a daily basis with 3 kids.

By taking on the role of primary carer for a week I could see what is required. I had to get up at 6am to get breakfast made, lunches ready, a 4 year old dressed, dishes washed and get 1 child to school by 8am. I then had to worry about after school activity logistics, dinner, homework and then putting them to bed. I was exhausted.

One morning I walked to school with my eldest with pyjamas on underneath my tracksuit, my hair resembling a birds nest underneath my cap and my morning breath ready to pounce on anyone unlucky enough to get in to dialogue with me.

As is always the case, when you are trying to fly under the radar, I ran into 3 people that morning who fancied a chat. I made sure that I didn’t invade their personal space.

Last week gave me a greater appreciation of someone else’s point of view. I really did spend a week in their shoes. (those size 8 stilettos are very hard to get into!)

I have never worked with a successful leader who is not empathetic.  I have seen plenty of leaders who claim to be empathetic, yet have not grasped the concept of empathy.

If you could improve your empathetic skills you would have to become a better leader.

Empathy is not sympathy.

Let’s be clear that there is a difference. Empathy is about understanding the other person’s point of view, understanding their emotions and feelings. Not just their words.

It’s not easy to do.  There is a tendency to get so caught up in what we are doing that we can neglect the challenges others are facing every day.

When you take on someone’s role, even just for a week, you get a much better understanding of what’s involved.

There’s an old saying about not judging someone until you have walked a mile in their shoes.  Then at least you’re a mile from them and they have no footwear on, so at least you will have the advantage.

Here are a few questions for any leader to consider:

1.How well do you really understand the different roles of the people in your team?
2.Could you both benefit if you took on their role, even just for a short period of time?
3.What are you doing to improve your empathetic skills?
4. f you would like to have stronger relationships with the people you work with, why aren’t you making more of an effort to appreciate what their daily role involves?

High performing teams rely on people understanding what everyone’s role involves on a daily basis.

Great leaders are always, observing, listening and asking well timed questions to better appreciate what the members of their team are dealing with.

They know how to take an interest in people, without stalking them. Their care factor is high, because they want what’s best for the team.

Last time I checked, ignoring your team wasn’t an overly successful leadership strategy. A position description may give you some clues as to what people do each day.

I’d say you’ll learn a lot more by sitting in their seat, car, or office for a few days.

Now if you are looking for some tips on using a slow cooker, I’m your go to man. I used it for the first time last week. What a great invention.

You know, you can even buy pre-made sauces for the slow cooker. You just need to add some diced tomatoes and stir. It complements the rice very nicely.

Posted in Leadership; Tagged Leadership; Posted by Steve Herzberg

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