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Leading with Ears, Heart, and Empathy



I’m Feliza Lopez, and I work at Cisco CX in Mexico. I lead a team of 17 engineers with diverse backgrounds and personalities. And I find great joy in helping them grow and succeed in their careers.

Being a good leader involves listening, staying curious, and creating an inclusive and collaborative environment.

Feliza Lopez stands in front of the Big Ben clock tower in London.
Feliza in London in 2023.

Almost two years ago, I had the opportunity to participate in a coaching program that focused on improving my listening skills and becoming a more compassionate and empathetic leader.

During the pandemic, Cisco Mexico launched a leadership coaching program called Coaching con Vision (Coaching with vision).

This program involved visually impaired professional coaches certified by the International Coaching Federation. The coaches guided us in enhancing listening skills, staying focused, and understanding the needs and emotions of others.

The program taught me to tap into my other senses, practice self-awareness, and exercise self-regulation.

I discovered the importance of pausing and embracing silence during conversations, which increased my confidence and improved the flow of dialogue. My incredibly supportive coach taught me techniques to be more present, like breathing exercises and reading nonvisual cues.

The program included both theory and practice. We were encouraged to continue learning through additional reading. I found the practical exercises particularly valuable because they provided real-life scenarios I could apply to my work.

The course lasted for three months, with one hour dedicated each week, making it manageable on top of my daily responsibilities.

Feliza and her teammates sitting at a restaurant table.
Feliza out with her team (left to right) Uziel Gallegos, Feliza Lopez, Martin Escorza, Lluvia Cuevas, Victor Cerrillo.

With the support of my manager, peers, and team, I felt motivated to apply the knowledge I gained from the coaching program.

Soon after completing the program, I had an opportunity to put what I learned into practice when one of my engineers reached out to me for help.

Not long after the course ended, a consulting engineer on my Professional Services team pinged me on a Friday night, asking for help with an urgent matter.

It was a long week, and I wanted to unplug and relax, but I decided to talk. I knew it was a sensitive issue and wanted to be supportive.

I was initially friendly and cheerful when I picked up. As soon as I noticed how shaken the voice on the other side of the line sounded, I immediately changed my tone and listened attentively.

A group of people standing in the front of a meeting room.
The Coaching Con Vision cohort in the Mexico office.

Thanks to the learnings I got from the program, I had the tools and emotional aptitude to give space and interact with more compassion and empathy.

After this situation had passed and everything was under control, I asked the engineer on my team for feedback on how I handled the situation. I was glad my listening made them feel supported, understood, and reassured.

Receiving such feedback meant a lot to me. It is something I always remember when I think about the leader I am and want to become.

Feedback from the engineer on my team also reaffirmed the positive impact of the coaching program.

I am grateful for the experience, as it has not only improved my leadership skills but also made me a better partner, family member, and friend. I am thankful to have been one of the 150 leaders who participated in this exceptional program.

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