• September 17, 2021

How many times have you heard the phrase ‘great leaders show empathy’?


It feels easy to tell someone they need to be empathetic to be great, but how many truly understand what empathy is?


If you’re to appreciate the role that empathy plays in leadership, you first need to understand what it means. Too many confuse empathy with sympathy. They believe that being empathetic means agreeing with or relating to the feelings another person has regarding a given situation or individual.


What it really means, is being able to understand the needs of others. It means that you’re aware of their feelings and how it impacts their perception, but it doesn’t mean that you have to agree with how they see things; rather, being empathetic means you’re willing and able to appreciate what the other person’s going through/thinking.


Empathy allows us to feel safe about our failures, it allows leaders to understand the root cause behind poor performance, to help employees improve and excel. Most importantly, it allows leaders to build and develop relationships with those they lead.


To be an empathetic leader you have to:

1. Truly listen and talk less

2. Leave judgement behind

3. Get to know people better, such as their interests and background

4. Be mindful of body language

5. Set aside your personal viewpoints


Empathy creates a more loyal, engaged and productive team, this is a trait every leader should master.




Assign an employee or a peer of your choice the responsibility to observe and record the amount of times you interrupt a conversation in a day and then have them present it to you. Before the actual numbers are revealed, guess to how many times you think this might have happened. Do the final figures match?

Based on the number of times you’ve interrupted a conversation, think to yourself how many opportunities you missed in a day to demonstrate empathy, and what that could mean for the individual who tried to communicate with you.




Written by Sahar Habib
Founder of Coach Wilson