Empathy’s worth as a leadership skill. Empathy allows you to determine whether or not the people you’re seeking to meet have been met. It enables you to anticipate the impact of your decisions and activities on key markets and plan accordingly. You can’t create a team or grow a new generation of leaders without empathy.
Empathy Is A Crucial Leadership Skill That Isn’t Easy To Master.
What is the reason for this? Empathy allows you to determine whether or not the people you’re seeking to meet have been met. It enables you to anticipate the impact of your decisions and activities on key markets and plan accordingly. You can’t create a team or grow a new generation of leaders without empathy. You can not evoke devotion or encourage fans. In negotiations and transactions, empathy is important because it helps you to consider your target’s expectations and the chances they are or are not able to take.
Empathy is the capacity to comprehend another person’s emotions, thoughts, and experiences. It’s also known as “vicarious introspection,” because it’s the desire to put yourself in another person’s shoes. However, make sure you’re deciding how they’d be in your shoes, not how you’d feel in theirs. This is where it gets tricky.
Early in our marriage, my husband took me cross-country skiing for the first time. He was certain that if he put himself in my shoes, I would enjoy the sport as much as he did. I despised it from the moment the skis were tied to my shoulders. Since I’m clumsy and have bad coordination, the feeling of perpetual uncertainty was not pleasant for me—in reality, it made me sad. My husband insisted that if I only gave it a shot, I would enjoy it. He was naturally agile and graceful, but he couldn’t understand what I was going through in my heels, which were now tethered to long, slick sticks!
It took me years to persuade him that my cross-country skiing background was vastly different from his. Fortunately, I learned the joys of snowshoeing. Because of the solidity and certainty, I was able to admire the winter woods as he started to roll around on the frozen snow.
Empathy’s worth as a leadership skill.
Empathy, like self-awareness, entails searching vast amounts of data and figuring out what is noise from what is important information. The procedure is similar to what a stock analyst does when scanning the market for signals, trends, and novel occurrences that stand out and cause him to take note, indicating that something significant is occurring.
When leaders lack understanding, it has a substantial financial cost. Ask United Airlines, which, according to Bloomberg’s Christopher Palmeri and Jeff Green, perpetrated “one of the worst corporate gaffes” ever when a surgeon was pulled off a plane to clear his paying seat for an employee. Oscar Munoz, United’s CEO, took three attempts before expressing empathy in public. “I apologised for having to re-accommodate these people,” Munoz said in his first and woefully insufficient speech.
The wave of sexual assault incidents that have engulfed recent headlines and culminated in the departures of accomplished politicians is partially attributed to a lack of understanding. It takes a lack of understanding to make comments about an employee’s anatomy or, worse, catch her. If a manager could and would put himself in the shoes of an employee and consider how she would feel if he did what he’s doing, he’d be much less likely to do what he’s doing.
Is it possible to learn empathy? To a certain point. Empathy is an inherent human trait, and like many of them, it has a continuum of strengths and weaknesses. Some people are born with the ability to sense other people’s emotions more easily than others. In reality, some of my clients must be trained to create a “empathic shield” because so much knowledge of other people’s emotions impairs their capacity to make choices that result in resentment or unpleasant feelings.
Market leaders who are highly competitive are also extremely fast information processors. For my clients who don’t “suffer fools willingly,” I suggest a moment of empathy—driving what’s a colleague’s desire to propose what seems to be a stupid idea? Follow up with an empathic remark like, “I can see why you were enthusiastic about that because it’s a critical concern, but sadly, it will trigger regulatory issues, so we can’t go that way.” In the long run, a 90-second expenditure of time will keep the employee from becoming embarrassed and dissatisfied.
If you’re naturally lacking in empathy, at least be aware that you have it and that it comes at a cost. You should train yourself to monitor yourself and do what does not come naturally: care of the people who will be affected and what your decision will mean to them before acting. Also, bear in mind that you should not only be mindful of, but also worried about, the effect you have on others. You should also ensure that you have a reliable professional who can help you fill of the gaps in your knowledge. That therapist must have the authority to intervene if you forget that there are other people in the world, and that their feelings and agendas differ from yours—and that these differences matter.
Your ability for empathy and competence at deploying it waxes and wanes with your physical and mental state, independent of your inherent endowment for empathy. It’s impossible to feel empathy for someone but yourself when you’re sick or exhausted. It’s difficult to understand the viewpoint of others when you’re in the throes of artistic euphoria. That’s great, as long as it doesn’t last too long and you try to check in with the people you’re with.
Don’t mistake empathy with being sweet or making people happy. You could pick up on another person’s thoughts and feelings and deliberately ignore them. Alternatively, you should use it to your benefit.
In essence, empathy is a non-judgmental data collecting technique that helps you to better understand the human world in which you do business and, as a result, make better decisions, craft better tactics, encourage loyalty, and connect clearly.
10 Reasons Why Empathy in Leadership Is Important
While I’ve previously written about the role of empathy in leadership, it’s such an important subject for today’s leaders that I’d want to go deeper into it. So, here are ten examples why empathy is essential in leadership today.
1. What does it mean to be empathic?
To grasp the importance of empathy in leadership, we must first have a good view of what empathy is. Much of the time, we confuse empathy with sympathy; being empathetic means identifying with or responding to another person’s emotions about a circumstance or individual.
Empathy, on the other hand, refers to the ability to perceive the desires of others. It means you’re conscious of their emotions and how they influence their thinking. Empathy does not imply that you agree with their point of view; rather, it implies that you are eager and able to understand what the other person is going through.
2. Why is it important for us to be aware of the needs of others?
At first sight, these can seem altruistic, but there are real advantages of taking the time to consider what people around us want rather than what we believe is needed. Indeed, leaders who take the time to consider their workers’ interests will provide them with the resources they need to go on and overcome the obstacles or problems that are preventing them from reaching their objectives.
Leaders may create a sense of confidence by knowing and empowering workers with what they need to achieve, thus improving their relationships with their employees and, as a result, the relationships employees have with one another, resulting in greater cooperation and efficiency.
3. What characteristics/behaviors characterize someone who is empathetic?
In a variety of posts, I’ve discussed the role of listening in leadership. And how successful or deliberate we are in our ability to listen to what others have to say is a core characteristic of empathetic people.
Empathetic people do, in fact, pay close attention to what you’re doing, focusing entirely on the person in front of them and not being easily confused by what’s on their computer or tablet. They spend more time listening than communicating and they want to learn the problems that others have, all of which contributes to the sense of being understood and recognized by those around them.
4. Is it possible to train to be more empathic, or is it a natural trait?
In the debate that emerged in response to my previous article on empathy and leadership, I stated that, contrary to common opinion, humans are not self-centered or merely concerned with personal benefit by birth. In reality,
We’re wired for sociability and connection to others, according to new studies into mirror neurons; in other words, we’re motivated to communicate and understand those we associate with.
We just have to look at how the whole planet responds, not just reacts, to natural disasters such as those that have affected Haiti and Japan to see that the need for empathy is a natural part of mankind.
5. What can we do to improve our empathetic abilities?
Given that empathy is a normal aspect of the human experience, demonstrating it to those around us isn’t as daunting as we would believe. As previously said, one of the most important characteristics of empathetic individuals is their capacity to listen intently to others around them. One way they do this is by paying more attention to both verbal and nonverbal signals in daily speech.
Making comparable efforts will assist you in shifting your attention away from the story in your head and toward the message being sent.
6. How important is empathy in leadership? What difference does it make?
Let’s be honest: when it comes to the keys to effective leadership, empathy is scarcely mentioned. Instilling a sense of empathy about how you direct people under your care, on the other hand, has a range of benefits:
Empathy encourages us to feel safe for our mistakes so we won’t be held responsible.
It inspires leaders to figure out what’s behind their employees’ bad results.
Leaders who are empathetic will assist suffering workers in improving and excelling.
7. So, why aren’t we more compassionate at work?
Since empathy is in our DNA and there are concrete advantages to cultivating a sense of empathy within the organization, why aren’t leaders leading the charge to make empathy a reality in today’s business world? The most apparent explanation (or excuse) is that expressing or acknowledging some kind of emotion in the workplace is still seen as a sign of vulnerability (hence the well-worn term “it’s nothing personal; it’s just business”).
Of necessity, as in any study of human relationships, individual behaviors are not the product of a single factor. Instead, it’s usually attributed to a combination of factors, including:
Empathy takes time and effort to illustrate; it takes time and effort to demonstrate knowledge and comprehension.
It’s not really clear whether an employee believes or thinks the way they do in a given situation.
It entails prioritizing others over yourself, which can be difficult in today’s demanding workplace.
Many businesses are focused on meeting their objectives at any cost to their workers.
In attempting to resolve the perceived absence of empathy in today’s workplace, it’s critical to understand that, much to an organization’s community, it’s a collection of interconnected behaviors and prejudices that reinforce how leaders and their teams interpret the importance of empathy in the workplace.
8. How do leaders foster an empathy-based culture?
One of the duties of leadership is to define the organization’s long-term strategy and set certain short-term targets for your workers to achieve in order to make your ambitions a reality.
What separates ordinary to mediocre leaders from others who succeed at leading others, though, is how the latter category recognizes that their attention can not be solely on whether or not targets are met. Rather, they are focused on achieving the common goal of making something positive.
To do so, leaders must first consider the inner motivations that motivate each of their workers and then match those motivations with the organization’s objectives. This necessitates leaders becoming more transparent about their plans and thinking, as well as asking their workers for their input. Leaders will set the tone and path taken by their colleagues to accomplish their organization’s priorities by investing more time listening about their needs.
9. How does empathy help us become stronger leaders?
Empathy plays a vital part in one’s willingness to be a good leader, which should be obvious by now. For those that need more convincing, below are few examples of how empathy can help.
You gain a better understanding of the workers’ desires.
Empathy enables you to foster a culture of open dialogue and better feedback.
It enables them to comprehend and investigate the issues that workers face, as well as how to assist them in resolving them.
Empathy with the staff will make them understand what they’re going through.
10. What would be one thing that executives should do to make the office more empathetic?
10. What would be one thing that executives should do to make the office more empathetic?
“Sawubona” is a Zulu greeting that roughly translates to “we see you.” This is not a variant of the royal use of “we” instead of “I.” Rather, it’s their way of acknowledging that how they see what they see around them is a product of their interpretation, which is shaped not just through their own perceptions but also by the stories and ideas passed down by their families and friends.
Similarly, leaders must note that how we feel affects our understanding of what is going on around us, so it is critical to consider those emotions in order to react and act appropriately.
It’s also important to remind ourselves that the story we’re telling in our heads isn’t the same as the story some are telling. We can only learn to grasp these gaps by listening carefully to others.
Since being attentive of what others are thinking is one of the foundations of fostering empathy, I’d like to close this piece with these two excerpts, which I believe capture the nature of the role empathy plays in leadership:
Listen to a man’s thoughts if you want to hear what’s on his mind. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German writer who lived in the 18th century.
Nobody is interested in how much you know before they are aware of how much you care. Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt