Google discovered that the key to high-performing teams is psychological safety.1 Harvard professor Noam Wesserman discovered that 65% of startups fail due to co-founder conflict2. Finally, innovation strategist Dev Patnaik discovered that the biggest differentiator of innovative companies was their ability to connect with their customers3
The common denominator to these discoveries? Their solution involves realizing empathy.
Anonymous / Manager / Female / 50s
at a fortune 500 software product company
Prior to the workshop, I was managing two groups in conflict. As their leader, I felt responsible for bringing peace and harmony to their relationship. I thought that’s what I should do as a leader who cares: to solve their problem. I thought this was being empathic. But this was not working. It was draining my energy and the conflict stood in our way so that we could not progress in the common tasks.
What the workshop taught me was that “No,” I don’t have to solve their problem. That is not what it means to be ‘empathic.’ In fact, the more I tried, the less energy I had to work with them. This is the paradox I have learned since the workshop.
I now feel that my energy is no longer drained. They are directed toward a shared purpose myself and the team has discovered together. The energy now brings everyone forward. I also have more energy to work on what matters the most to me.
Ricardo Casanovas / CTO & Co-Founder / Male / 40s at linke it, a software consulting company
Me and my co-founder have grown our company to around 50 people over 7 years. In this process, we’ve always felt something was missing, but didn’t realize exactly what that was and how to go about filling that void. The workshop helped answer that question.
The workshop made us realize that since finding our company, we have focused mostly on technical development, and not enough on the human-to-human interaction. The workshop woke up something within me and my co-founder so strong that soon after the workshop, we held a company-wide meeting to share what we learned from the workshop.
We have now begun our journey of paying greater attention to the human-element within our company as well as developing greater sensitivity to the cultural differences between us and our clients. It’s become clear that the topic of empathy is valuable to improving the effectiveness of our business in more ways than we thought.
Andreas Gautsch / Software Architect / Male / 30s
at hella, a high-tech product company
Before the workshop, I didn’t imagine that empathy mattered much. But Slim then showed just how much I can improve my business relationships by realizing empathy.
After the workshop, Seung Chan challenged us to take the next 3 months to practice the art of realizing empathy in our work lives. I did, and the result was phenomenal.
One of the most important things I learned in this process is that some people have a different preference for communication. Specifically, that they prefer to hear the conclusion first before hearing about the story of how I arrived at the conclusion. I have practiced this diligently and deliberately and have become much more comfortable with it.
For a very long time, I’ve been wanting to ensure my message is more effectively transferred from me to another person. This workshop helped me achieve that. Now I worry less that my thoughts will not be heard or fully communicated. This has brought about a significant positive change to my life.
Anonymous / UX Researcher / Female / 40s at a fortune 500 software product company
This workshop is intense. It stays with you for a long time until it settles.
Since the workshop, I now see more clearly how and why cooperation and collaboration are hampered within organizations. In the absence of empathy, we easily judge people as “playing politics,” instead of seeking to learn what is really going on. People are not always willing to share what is really going on, either. What results from this is a lack of trust. Not only with our colleagues, but also with the stakeholders. Since people don’t speak honestly with one another, prejudice remains and trust deteriorates.
What I learned from the workshop is that without being able to empathize with each other, losing trust becomes easy while building or recovering trust becomes difficult. This is especially so with upper management. Realizing empathy with upper management was not a topic I gave much thought prior to the workshop. I have become much more sensitized to this ever since. This is not an easy challenge, so I plan to continue work on this front.
Intro to Realizing Empathy
Intro to Human Interaction Design (Alternate Title)
This workshop is for leaders wishing to take their leadership to the next level or teams wishing to take their collaborative performance to the next level.
This workshop can be delivered in-person or virtually.. It can be limited to half-day and cover Part 1 only, full-day to cover Part 1 and 2 only, or span the whole two-days to cover all 3 Parts.
The workshop will be particularly valuable if you are experiencing difficulty working with your co-founders, employees, investors, co-workers, superiors, subordinates, customers, or clients. It will be exceptionally valuable if you notice you or others feeling psychologically unsafe in your team. This workshop will help you kickstart a process of (re)designing your interactions with others for the better.
Part 1: Develop Awareness (1/2 day)
- Understand the difference between empathy and empathizing.
- Understand the difference between having empathy and realizing empathy.
- Understand the difference between not empathizing, empathizing, and hyper-empathizing.
- Understand how care and compassion can have a negative impact on ourselves & others unless it is coupled with the realization of empathy.
- Understand how problem solving may, despite best intentions, not only be ineffective, but also make things worse.
- Understand the difference between innovation and problem solving.
- Understand why we must innovate first before problem solving, when problem solving fails.
- Understand how realzing empathy fuels innovation.
- Understand why reframing the situation from a problem to a paradox helps us realize empathy.
- Understand why it’s critical to realize empathy with one’s “self” as well as “others.”
- Become aware of how the unconscious tension you hold is getting in your own way of becoming a better leader or team member.
Part 2: (Re)Design (1/2 day)
- Gain clarity on what unfulfilled needs or unrealized values are contributing to your tension, and thus hampering your relationships and interactions.
- Gain clarity on what you need and value from your relationships and interactions.
- Gain clarity on what needs and values others have that you’re willing to help fulfill and realize.
- Gain clarity on what new choice of behaviors are required to fulfill and realize you and others’ needs and values in your relationships and interactions.
- Gain clarity on a single measure of “success” that will indicate to you that you are making progress in your development & maturation.
- Design your first human-human interaction design that aims to fulfill and realize your needs and values as well as others’.
- Pair up with an accountability buddy who will support you to continuously develop your prototype over the next 6 months.
Part 3: Prototype (1 day)
- Rehearse new behaviors in two different simulated environments of stress/tension.
- Learn from your practice through reflection.
- Gain clarity on how you will apply your lessons from the simulation to redesign your behaviors to better fit your specific situation.
Custom Workshop and Retreat Facilitation
Instead of participating in a workshop with a set curriculum, you can also request a facilitated conversation on a custom-tailored topic around team dynamics, performance, and alignment.
The specifics can be tailored to your organization’s situation and needs. Please use the invitation form to articulate your situation and needs.
Anastasia Kaschenko / CTO & Co-Founder
In a word- transformative .
Slim [faciliated our conversation] the night before a very important final presentation. Our team was not aligned and we were arguing in circles, unable to agree on a clear and unified direction. He helped our team resolve our disagreements and come up with a clear and unified direction for the presentation in less than 2 hours! After our [facilitated conversation], we were able to dive right into execution. It was such a transformative experience, especially to experience it in such a short amount of time.
It is difficult to convey in words the impact of Slim’s coaching on myself personally, professionally, and for our team in the setting we engaged Slim. His approach is warm, thoughtful and focuses on the people in the room (or for us, the video call ). He really has a powerful way of getting to the "root" of disagreements, having each person walk in the other's shoes and elevating the connection between us as teammates to a highly attuned, empathetic, and co-creating energy/space.
Anyone who gets to work with Slim will have benefited themselves, especially their emotional intelligence. I highly recommend Slim and his unique approach to coaching and leadership development.
Brendan Coffey / CEO & Co-Founder steward
Our team [conversation was facilitated by Slim] during Singularity University's Global Solutions Program. The time we had with him was immensely valuable.
As we looked to create a strong foundation in our team and align ourselves with team members, the stakes were high. Not only were our intimately personal visions for the future being challenged and negotiated, but so were our personal commitments to our families. With such high stakes, it was immensely difficult to communicate with each other effectively. Slim created a safe space and found the meaning behind our words so that we could better support each other. Being guided to communicate in a way that gets our meanings across, instead of merely our words, was particularly valuable. Without such facilitation it was easy for our conversations to go around in circles.
As someone that is fascinated by and experiments with team management structures and dynamics, Slim completely awed me during our sessions.
I often think back to the questions posed during these sessions. Questions aimed at our core motivations and needs in order to build stronger relationships, or to create clarity in misaligned ones.
I have continued to use them while thinking about personal relationships in addition to team ones. And find that they can build stronger team trust and purpose.
I am grateful for having begun working with Slim while at SU and look forward to collaborating with him on all future organizations that I help build.
selected past sponsors + venues
- The Five Keys to a Successful Google Team
- Founder’s Dillemma
- Wired to Care