Business leaders, pastors, teachers, coaches, captains, organization overseers, presidents, and retail managers that are successful all do one thing that really sets them apart. One thing that broadens their influence and heightens their status among others. One thing that garners respect and loyalty. One thing that creates an atmosphere of inclusion. Something that all of us, regardless of our job title can do to make ourselves better but even more importantly enhance the lives of those around us.
We can change our shoes.
Don’t misunderstand me. I don’t mean a literal untie and removal of your own shoes and putting on those of another. I mean spending time mentally and emotionally in someone else’s shoes.
We understand others so much more when we see things from their point of view. When we spend time in conversation with someone showing empathy towards their situation, we know better how to meet their wants and needs.
Proctor and Gamble did something really cool a while back. In order to better understand their consumers, they actually sent out workers to live with random families for days at a time to better understand their habits and why they do what they do.
Did this increase their sales and profitability? Probably so. But the bigger impact? They earned trust from people who saw a big company that really desired to meet their needs.
This applies across all areas of the workforce. Teachers, spend some time in the shoes of your students. They’re not cookie-cutter pieces that are all exactly alike.
Pastors, spend time talking and walking with those in your congregation. Is your message what they need to hear, or should you tailor it in a way to better impact those you speak to?
Few things that leaders can do will be as humbling. The act of changing shoes is one that requires some humility. It’s admitting you don’t already know what’s best for those who follow you, or those who learn under you, or those who shop in your store.
Changing shoes will be uncomfortable. It won’t always come naturally. But in the end, it’s worth it to know others better and, in turn, learn something about yourself.
What steps can you take towards changing your shoes?