Organizations that encourage empathetic leadership can expect lower employee turnover and stronger teams.
Empathy is the ability to understand someone’s thoughts, emotions and feelings. Understanding employees is a critical managerial skill. It helps leaders create room for people with different perspectives.
The Value Of Empathy In Leadership
A strong team reflects qualities like good teamwork, collaboration, effective communication, self-awareness and trust. It’s a group of people who trust each other to do a good job, not step on their toes and take initiative.
But what helps them be kind and compassionate to each other? It’s the quality of being empathetic.
Empathy in leadership makes a huge difference in a professional setting. In a competitive environment, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that it’s the people who make an organization. You may consider a team as a cohesive unit, but its success depends on individual effort. If one employee is troubled due to a personal matter, it has the potential to affect everyone else. An empathetic leader is important to balance the scales. It not only helps leaders assess what people need but also what they don’t need.
Importance Of Empathy In Leadership
Leaders are the decision-makers of any business, which makes empathy in leadership even more critical. These decisions impact not just them, but the rest of the organization as well. Leading with empathy can help leaders understand their responsibility toward others. They have to set an example for their employees, give them a platform where they feel safe and heard and be interested in what they’re doing and how they’re feeling.
Here’s how empathetic leadership can nurture a healthy work environment:
It helps create lasting relationships in the workplace, builds rapport and helps leaders develop their interpersonal skills
It helps establish trust between a leader and their employee so the employee finds them more approachable
It enhances performance as a result of improved communication and observation skills
It gives leaders the flexibility to work with people who have different work styles
It leads to better decision-making, especially during a crisis situation
Empathy and leadership now go hand in hand. Organizations should employ leaders who display empathy for the people around them. Simply directing people to act on orders isn’t the most effective way to get things done.
Examples Of Empathy And Leadership
Being empathetic helps leaders reach out to their employees. An empathetic leader is quick to pick up on cues to help them understand someone’s state of mind.
Here are some examples of empathy in leadership:
During a performance appraisal, a manager picks up on their employee’s discomfort. They ask, “Is there something on your mind?” The employee feels an instant connection and tells their manager they’re uncomfortable working long hours because of family commitments.
A manager calls a team meeting to discuss their weekly agenda. An employee wants to speak up but gets interrupted by their coworker. The manager steps in to ask the employee to share their views, making sure to include them in the conversation.
These are a few of many possible examples to show how leaders can be empathetic in the workplace—from actively listening to showing a genuine interest in their lives.
How To Encourage Empathetic Leadership
Organizations play a critical role in building empathy in the workplace. Empathy is more or less an innate quality, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be grown and nurtured. The first step is to increase self-awareness among leaders. Knowing that they need to be more empathetic is an important first step. This can be done with assessments, on-the-job training and learning and development initiatives.
Harappa’s High Performing Leaders program offers a blended, online-first learning opportunity to leaders. They’ll learn the importance of empathy, humility and authenticity in the workplace. The program brings a range of frameworks and concepts like Growth vs. Fixed Mindset and Trust Equation to help leaders build strong professional relationships.
Leaders bring cohesion and conviction to an organization. A good leader is one who considers their employees as more than just cogs in the corporate wheel. If you want to drive high performance in the workplace, you too can encourage your leadership to be more empathetic.
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