Are we Empathetic Leaders?
Having Empathy as a leader will always be a critical skill, but it is undoubtedly taking on a new level of meaning and priority in our current environment. Over the past two years, we have all experienced situations requiring greater empathy upon reflection. As leaders, we must invest more time and focus on building strategic empathy in our professional repertoire.
As I have been discussing on several of my blogs, leadership calls for a mix of various skills to set the stage for team engagement, performance, and so much more. Empathy, however, tops the list of what leaders must get right for the road ahead.
What is empathy in leadership? Oprah Winfrey sums it up nicely in this quote, “Leadership is about Empathy. It is about having the ability to relate to and connect with people for the purpose of inspiring and empowering their lives.”
Leaders must not be experts to demonstrate a caring attitude towards others. Simply checking in, asking questions, and asking employees if they would like to share can be effective.
Leaders who take the time to understand someone else’s situation can quickly turn that into compassion and action. It extends into appreciating a person’s point of view and engaging in healthy debates that can lead to solutions.
Without empathy, it will be challenging to build a team. Understanding team members to enable them to be their best, be more fulfilled, and collaborate with others will lead to a more efficient unit.
As leaders, we must continue laying the groundwork through empathy by building trust, identifying shared priorities, having tough conversations, and understanding when to manage team performance.
Empathy is a skill we can learn, improve, and develop and is under our control as leaders. Knowing that empowers us to work harder at growing it and to use it more with people who look or think differently than ourselves. This will contribute to positive relationships and organizational cultures, and it also will drive results.
As leaders, let us be authentic with people and form meaningful relationships with them based on trust and transparency.
We must listen more and recognize different perspectives. We must not assume that everyone shares our ideas. We truly need to listen not just to respond but to understand. This will empower, motivate, and retain people.
In conclusion, empathy is one of a leader’s most effective skills. Empathetic leaders are experts at building and maintaining relationships which is critical for any successful leader for the road ahead.