One of the biggest challenges facing leaders these days is how to effectively lead "in two dimensions," Ketchum president and CEO Mike Doyle tells Doug Simon.

Leading employees remotely "has really made it difficult to lean into the qualities that I think often make compelling leaders," Doyle says. That includes "the ability to read a room, the ability to understand how someone's body language is reflecting how they're engaged in a conversation, what might be in their mind that they're not necessarily sharing."

But he says that the new normal has also "forced us to lean into more genuine and human interactions with our colleagues, with our clients to actually really take the time to ask thoughtful questions."

Making the most of those human interactions is key to building employee engagement, Doyle says. At Ketchum, regular "check-ins" let employees express what's on their minds. "That transparency has helped us make some dramatic improvements in categories like diversity, equity, and inclusion, and the balance of the way that our employees, our colleagues are able to handle their work and their lives."

He also discusses the advice that Ketchum gives clients on how to make sure their employees are engaged. A big part of that, he says, is "communicating with clarity and empathy, using channels that are not just assumed but that are deliberate and intentional."

This is all the more important in a world where employees often look to the workplace "for some confirmation, for some stability."

Doyle also says that putting together a strong, stable workforce requires "a greater emphasis on hiring and recruiting diverse talent." That diversity exends to the skill sets potential employees can bring to a company, and it also means that employers need to "lean harder into skills that can be learned."

One of those learned skills, he says, is empathy. "It requires, though, any individual, to appreciate and accept why empathy matters in whatever interaction they are choosing to have."

Another skill set that he says is on the upswing is analytics. "We are hiring like crazy in that space," he says

For leaders, Doyle tells Simon, an essential skill is self-awareness. He says leaders need to take stock "in how you show up in the room. Check in with yourself and sort of figure out where you might stand on the empathy meter."

View all of the interviews in the “PR's Top Pros Talk” series. Subscribe to get notified when new episodes are available.

Interested in taking part? Contact Doug Simon at dougs@dssimonmedia.com

D S Simon Media helps clients get their stories on television through satellite media tours and by producing and distributing content to the media. The company also produces live social media events.