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Lead with Compassion

Written By: Lauren Howard

If the people who love you notice your messy house, then they’re worried about you, not the house.

If someone cares about the status of your living space, It means that something is different enough from your baseline that they have noticed, not that they give a single care about your house being messy.

My husband and I keep our spaces pretty clean. He is an impulsive scrubber and will forget what he needs to be doing in the name of cleaning something that he notices is dirty.

I’m a tidier and a stacker. I need as few angles as possible in all of my spaces, and that means putting stuff away so surfaces are as uninterrupted as possible. It calms my brain.

If you come to find me when something stressful or overwhelming is about to happen, I am definitely cleaning off the counters in my kitchen.

I’m calming the chaos to get ready for the next influx of chaos.

I instinctively apologize for the state of my house or my unkempt hair, but I can’t think of a time that anyone has ever actually cared.

Except once.

I had a baby under a year old who never slept and a toddler who didn’t understand what was going on. My husband was out of commission for more than a month after emergency eye surgery. He literally had to lay face down for weeks at a time. I had a more-than-full-time job, a puppy, and never enough hours in the day.

A friend came over to check on us and bring food, and I put on the show that everything was okay. It was fine. We were fine. It’s all fine.

She looked around and, without a word, grabbed a kid, a step stool for the aforementioned kid, and a sponge. They washed dishes together before moving to the counter to deal with all the angles.

She didn’t care that my house was messy. She cared that I could not keep my head above water, which is the only reason why I wasn’t obsessively straightening the counters.

Changes in productivity are indicative of something bigger going on, and when leaders notice it, the first conversation should be about support. 

Reliable employees don’t just become unreliable overnight, and life happens outside of work. Sometimes, there is no option but to bring those things to work.

Create a support plan. Find out what ways the company empowers you to provide them assistance. Trust your people even if they aren’t comfortable giving details.

Employees are, shockingly, people. That is not something to apologize for or feel embarrassed about.

Lead with compassion first. Find out what your people need. Support them through it.

Grab a sponge.

That is a culture of actionable empathy.


Founder & CEO at elletwo

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