Recently, a leader was telling me about his morning routine. When he arrives in his office suite, he pours a cup of coffee and then drinks it slowly, as he walks around the suite, greeting his team members and chatting with them.
Mostly, the chats are about non-work topics–socializing before the work begins. He talks to the team members and he sips coffee as he listens to them. What a good practice!
I was particularly struck by this story, because the man describes himself as being very low in empathy. Among his greatest areas for growth are his appreciation of others’ feelings and his understanding of how best to respond. Yet, it occurred to him that lingering with team members over coffee first thing in the morning would be a good practice.
Make no mistake, he doesn’t walk this daily round because he enjoys it; his preference is to go directly to his desk and avoid the chit-chat. However, he understands that this time of connecting and listening is vital to his success as a leader, so he tolerates his discomfort with the interactions in order to do what is needed.
I’m sure that the coffee helps.