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 are 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 are aware of their feelings and how it impacts their perception, but it does not mean that you have to agree with how they see things; rather, being empathetic means you are willing and able to appreciate what the other person is 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.
Written by Sahar Habib
Founder of Coach Wilson