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  • Writer's pictureMelisa Winterbine

Cultivate a Flourishing Culture in Your Team

Updated: Apr 28

If you want to be someone who lifts the health of your team, increases creativity and productivity, and improves morale, then take a short pause to discover the few simple actions you can take to continue cultivating a culture of flourishing. 


This superpower has copped a reputation of being a bit of a buzzword, still, it’s a compelling one. What happens when this ingredient is absent, reveals the possibilities if it’s present! 


Have you ever been left feeling like a cog in the wheel and a means to an end? If so, it could be that what was missing was empathy. 


When there are deficiencies in empathy within a team, people can experience a number of symptoms, including a lack of motivation or innovation, low morale, high rates of sickness or staff turnover, and a decline in creativity, collaboration, and innovation.  


As a leader, what’s encouraging is that these metrics are measurable; they can be gathered and scaled through observation, discussion, or by seeking feedback from team members.  


So, if there's a niggle suggesting room for improvement, keep reading for helpful, implementable info that will garner results for you and the humans you work with. 


And, if your metrics are sweet, then take a peek at some of the positive outcomes you’ll enjoy. 


So, what is Empathy anyway? 


Merriam Webster’s Dictionary describes Empathy as “the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another”. 

According to the research of Brené Brown (expert on shame and empathy) - empathy doesn’t require you to “have the exact same experiences as the person sharing their story”, but it is making an effort to understand and connect with “the emotion that someone is experiencing, not the event or the circumstance” (and the invitation isn't into just the heavy, sad ones either).

This excellent news is this: 

  • You don't have to feel and experience everything someone else does.

  • You don’t have to be a therapist or coach like me, to integrate this into your leadership. 

  • You don’t have to shelve constructive feedback. 

  • You don’t have to compromise on performance and outcomes. 

Empathy asks you to act and lead with the assumption that the person in your team is a human being, experiencing a real life that encompasses more than just the work in front of them, and to integrate kindness into your actions. 

Here’s why it’s worth it for everyone... 

The perks of empathy 

As you introduce (or amplify) this ‘soft skill’ within your team, here’s what you can tap into: 

For you 

Besides knowing that you’re bossing at this leadership/human thing (which in my opinion is a pretty epic outcome on its own), clinical research on empathy suggests you’ll personally experience lower levels of stress, greater problem-solving capacity, and improvements in mood and immunity. 

For your team 

Author and Professor of Psychology, Jamil Zaki of Stanford University, reveals that fostering empathy in the workplace sees individuals enjoy increasing levels of psychological safety which leads to an uptick of creativity, collaboration and peer-to-peer care, equalling a healthier team and higher job satisfaction. 

For your organisation 

Harvard Business Review reported that the ten most empathetic companies increased in value twice as much in comparison to the companies that sat at the bottom of the ladder, due to a low value for empathy.  


Ready to implement? Small actions, big benefits. 

My top three, easily actionable tips to see team health grow:


#1 Be present to the person, not just the problems 


The problems don’t go away when you engage others with empathy (sorry about that), but the outcome for everyone will improve when you do. 


Ask Questions: Take small moments to show genuine interest or concern when engaged in a conversation with a team member. Asking questions shows you're actively listening and this conveys empathy, when genuine.

#2 Be a human, not just a leader 


Reveal (and remember) your human side. This really disrupts power imbalance in the best possible way, leaders put themselves on the same level as those around them and remember you’re in it together.  


Acknowledge their experience: If a team member is having a rough time, validate and normalise being human. Think along the lines of "That sounds really challenging, I can understand why you'd be feeling that way", or "It can be challenging to juggle life and work at the same time". What would you appreciate someone saying to you to normalise real life stuff?


#3 Be a person of celebration, not just of agenda 


And I’m not talking about serving up a ‘compliment sandwich’. You know the one? Here’s something good about your work, followed by feedback for improvement, followed by something else good about you.  


Affirm them as a person: Verbalise the good things, often; look for, and acknowledge creativity, innovation, and effort. This could sound like, "Your creative ideas improved the atmosphere and impact of our event last week!”. Don't forget to celebrate personal life events as opportunities arise too.


Let’s commit to empathy 


It’s an ingredient we see sorely lacking online, and in the media. I mean, in a climate where having a view can include or polarise you completely, people are being ‘othered’ left right and centre. Now, more than ever, empathy is needed to create spaces where people can experience genuine kindness and consideration.  


When you take measures to humanise people, you’ll cultivate healthy environments of connection, creativity and influence. You can be a part of adding vital elements of health to a world that desperately needs it. 

Which action will you be working on this week?


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