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Empathy Matters in Leadership

Empathy at work is more important than ever and is deemed a crucial soft skill in work and everyday life. Everyone wants to be productive, and embracing Empathy boosts productivity, reduces turnover and increases loyalty for the road ahead.

It is factual that workplaces that foster an empathetic work culture are more productive and have higher employee satisfaction and retention rates than those that don’t. In addition, organizations that integrate emotional intelligence into their companies through flexible policies and empathetic management styles outperform their rivals. Diversity and inclusivity can only truly work if there is empathetic leadership.

An essential question to leaders: Are we genuinely empathetic with our team?

What exactly is Empathy? It is the ability to sense and understand other people’s emotions; it is not just a gut feeling.

Let’s look at three types of Empathy:

Cognitive Empathy: Cognitive Empathy describes the emotional capacity to understand what another person might think or feel, but it typically does not include any emotional engagement or support. Being able to notice employees having a troubling week and offering support is a great example.

Emotional Empathy: Emotional Empathy is the ability to sense and share another person’s feelings, and it goes a step beyond cognitive Empathy. It contributes to changes in the person experiencing it. When emotional Empathy is utilized healthily, it is a great way to bond with your team.

Compassionate Empathy: Compassionate Empathy is the most active form of Empathy and involves feeling concerned and reaching out with actionable steps to remedy or reduce the impact.

We know that there is a massive gap in understanding between employer and employee and so here are some ideas that can foster a better working environment:

Teamwork: Creating a teamwork culture will confirm that one person can’t do their job without the help and support of others. Teamwork is the foundation of every great company; empathetic teamwork can be game-changing.

Accept people as they are: We all have strengths and weaknesses but dwelling on a person’s shortcomings isn’t productive. Trust is essential, and when each person feels they can be themselves, feedback and creativity flow freely, leading to a productive, efficient, high-quality performance team.

Be Transparent and Authentic: A big part of transparency is honesty about successes and failures. Authenticity is empathetic because you can help others see that they’re doing okay when you are authentic. A willingness to share your vulnerabilities and lessons learned can make a massive difference to your team.

Empathy allows us to embrace our differences, and empathetic leadership fosters those differences: different ideas, perspectives, and strengths and weaknesses to build better teams and organizations.

Let’s not make it about us, leaders, because we are potentially opening ourselves up to tense situations. We must pay close attention to nonverbal cues and facial expressions. It’s easy to get lost in the busyness of work, and even the most empathetic person can miss a tone of voice. We must take the time to listen to the perspectives of others and cast aside judgements or assumptions to hear the critical parts of what someone is trying to communicate. Improving listening skills will unlock one of the most significant benefits of Empathy for the road ahead.


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