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Do Your Best

When I was young, I never expressed an interest in joining the Cubs or Scouts. Back then, it seemed to consist of ‘Bob A Job’ week, learning to tie knots, and camping out in the cold. I now know there was, and is, much more to the Scout Association.  With youth programmes inspiring 4 to 18-year-olds to develop life skills, the activities may have changed over time, but the organisation's ethos has not.

The Scout Association actively engages and supports young people in their personal development, empowering positive contributions to society and encouraging them to act with care, respect, and integrity while working together to explore their own and others’ beliefs.

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Credit: Matt Seymour

It has all the hallmarks of a high-performing culture, including the steadfast belief to Do Your Best in every challenge you face. And not unlike business, the need to understand the feelings and thoughts of others is paramount to achieving this aim with empathetic leaders influencing how teams develop, learn, and work together.

Empathy is an inborn human quality often missing from daily life, as we often confuse it with sympathy. Both are great character traits, but knowing the difference is where the real power lies. In simplistic terms, sympathy involves understanding from your point of view, whereas empathy is about putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.

There are three types of empathy, each being slightly different.

Cognitive – The understanding of another person’s thoughts and emotions in a very rational rather than emotional sense

Emotional – Sometimes described as emotional contagion, as you understand another through transmissible feelings

Compassionate – The understanding of someone’s feelings and taking appropriate action to support

And the great news is you can train yourself to become more empathetic.

How To Develop Empathy

Try practising these three techniques to help develop your empathetic leadership.

Actively Listen and Be Open

As the famous quote from Epictetus goes, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak”. So, listen to others to understand their feelings and thoughts, whether a child, friend or colleague.

But while listening, we must make ourselves vulnerable by being open about our own feelings, thoughts, and worries. Taking this approach will build stronger empathetic bonds between individuals.

Be Curious About Everyone

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Credit: Dominik Van Opdenbosch

People with empathic tendencies have retained a childlike curiosity about everything and everyone. By finding other people more interesting, they adopt a natural inquisitiveness by asking questions. This curiosity develops empathy when talking to people outside our circle, where we encounter lives and views very different from ours.

Try Another Life

Challenge yourself to take to time to experience other people’s lives. Take inspiration from television programmes where individuals or families swap homes to embrace cultures, beliefs, and viewpoints different from their own. Through taking this bold approach, you can better empathise with individuals.

Leaders in all guises, whether in business, education, or the scout association, are successfully developing people of all ages to do their best. Being empathetic is possibly the most important skill to develop when helping individuals on their life journey.  


Have a brilliant week!

David Rogers

Founder & CEO, Fuelled Fit and Fired Up Ltd

*DYB = Do Your Best, DOB = Do Our Best is part of the original Cub’s Promise

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