A KOAN Conversation

Jennifer Simpson
5 min readMar 5, 2024

Breaking Through What is Broken

Photo by Steve Leisher on Unsplash

In my last article, I talked about the power of a KOAN conversation and its ability to breakthrough the things that keep us mired and stuck.

I kicked off the first live KOAN conversation of 2024 last week with author, speaker, and change-maker Sophie Wade where we dove deep into what it takes to lead when everything around us feels so broken so often.

We had a far-ranging conversation (you can watch the recording and sign up for the next one here) about the role of empathy as a “competitive advantage” in the new era work and landed on a few key takeaways:

  1. Empathy Builds Trust
  2. Trust is the Foundation of Effective Leadership
  3. Trust Fosters Resilience
  4. Resilience Helps Navigate Uncertainty

Here’s what we explored:

  1. The Power of Empathy in Building Trust

Empathy serves as a powerful catalyst for fostering deeper connections and understanding among team members. When leaders prioritize empathy, they create an environment where individuals feel genuinely seen, heard, and understood.

By actively listening to their team members’ perspectives and demonstrating genuine concern for their well-being, leaders lay the groundwork for meaningful relationships built on trust and mutual respect.

In such an environment, team members are more likely to collaborate effectively, communicate openly, and support one another, leading to increased engagement, satisfaction, and productivity.

Leaders who exemplify empathy not only nurture a culture of inclusivity and belonging but also instill a sense of value and support among their team members.

By acknowledging and validating individuals’ emotions, experiences, and perspectives, empathetic leaders foster an environment where everyone feels valued and empowered to contribute their unique insights and talents.

This sense of psychological safety encourages openness, vulnerability, and authenticity within teams, enabling members to express themselves freely without fear of judgment or reprisal.



Jennifer Simpson

An artist, poet, leader, lover, daughter, sister, and mother living in Boulder, Colorado. Owner and CEO at Integrated Work. Author of the KOAN method.