This is why people quit

This has been a busy week of CEO’s publicly showing a lack of empathy for their team.

I had Andi Owen’s back last week, and felt like she had good intentions that were unfortunately executed poorly in a moment of stress.
This week Clearlink’s CEO publicly applauded an employee for selling their family dog so they were able to return to office. 

This guy really thought an employee selling their family dog was an admirable decision made for the good of the company. 

Let’s unpack this a little bit. It’s likely that this particular employee was looking for a reason to not have a dog, but this is definitely not what employees were hearing in this moment. They were thinking about what it would mean for them to have to sell THEIR family dog due to a company decision. And for some people at Clearlink their dogs are like family. 

The message they received was, “My CEO cares more about his bonus than he does about my family.” This is not ever what you want. This mindset will lead only to disengagement and quiet quitting.

Empathy is the secret sauce, my friends. Remember, it’s all about caring for the human being, not just the results they produce. Put yourself in the shoes of the people on your team and recognize you value the things important to them. 

Trust me, it’s a game-changer in business and leadership.

Nowadays, we’re all just faces on screens, and that makes it even more important that you make time to listen intentionally and take time to understand your team’s priorities and why they do the things they do. 

Be in tune with their experiences and help them navigate this crazy world. 

When you make your team feel heard and feel supported, they will challenge themselves to do more when you aren’t around–because they know they are working for someone who cares about them.

It is a big deal.

So how do you become the empathetic leader everyone needs? Here are some ideas:

  1. Set the stage!. Before you chat with your team, let them know you’re ready to listen up and pay attention. Put those distractions on hold and get ready to get curious. This will help everyone relax and open up.
  2. Actively listen like a champ. When your team is talking, focus on their words, not what you’re gonna say next. Give them the head nod, maintain eye contact, and toss in some “I feel you” and “totally get it” to let them know you’re right there with them.
  3. Embrace your human side. Nobody’s perfect, and that’s cool. Be real with your team, share your goals, and even admit when you mess up. That’s how you build trust and create an environment where everyone can be their true selves. Your team will be more likely to be vulnerable with you once they’ve seen you are vulnerable with them.

Keep it real, guys. Empathy is the way forward, and it’s how we’ll change the world together. Am I off here? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Jacob Espinoza is a leadership coach in Salem, Oregon. For more information visit

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