At Leader’s Imago, we define the leadership competency “Situational Sensitivity and Responsiveness” as the way in which a manager “reads” group dynamics and the underlying feelings of others, and how she or he responds to personally sensitive situations. This competency is about how you demonstrate empathy, respect, and encouragement. This competency is about how you consider impacts of your decisions on others, and how you actively address concerns of your team members.

The holidays are upon us. Holiday work parties and “Goodie Days” are underway. Maybe your team has planned some kind of fun gift-exchange game or special holiday recognition. These are great ways to share the holiday spirit with your work team!

The commercials we see and cards we send are full of warmth and joy. And yet, the holidays can be an especially difficult and lonely time for many people – those who have lost loved ones, those who don’t have good memories from holidays past, those who are experiencing difficult situations outside of work. Perhaps this is true for you. Perhaps this is true for someone on your team.

Thankfully, there is space to hold both the happy festivities as well as the grief and sadness. And as managers, we can practice the skills of Situational Sensitivity and Responsiveness to meet our team members where they are, and to respond with respect, empathy and kindness. I encourage you to tune into your Situational Sensitivity and Responsiveness this holiday season. Simply listening might be the most important gift you give someone this year.