Companies aiming for sustainability and reliability need to hire and develop effective leaders who can steer the organization forward during both good and challenging times. This requires looking beyond traditional management strategies and cultivating the crucial skills necessary for success.
Among these skills is empathy, an important leadership competency.
Empathetic leadership involves having the ability to understand people’s needs, trying to see things from their perspective, and acknowledging their thoughts and feelings. This is a skill that tends to be overlooked and is rarely used as a performance indicator.
Defining Empathy In The Workplace
Empathy refers to understanding and relating to other people’s thoughts, experiences, and emotions. Leaders with high empathy levels can easily understand a situation from their employees’ perspective and react with compassion.
Empathy in relation to the workplace implies that as a leader, your employees can establish true and sincere connections with each other, which will, in turn, improve performance and relationships.
Why Empathy Is Key to Effective Leadership
Managers who practice empathetic leadership are often regarded as better performers in their jobs by their bosses. The following are reasons why empathy is a vital leadership skill to adopt and not just a soft skill as usually perceived.
1. It Creates a Productive Work Culture
Unavoidable circumstances such as illnesses and accidents may affect an employee’s productivity or even make them miss coming to work. In such cases, an empathetic leader will understand the employee’s condition and show their lenience accordingly.
Such practices can create a positive work culture where employees know they can rely on their leaders in times of trouble, thus creating stronger bonds between them and the organization’s management. When employees feel understood and listened to, they will strive to fulfill their responsibilities and achieve their goals to repay their leaders for their empathetic nature.
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2. Increases Employee Satisfaction and Motivation
There is a common misconception that empathy makes leaders weak, yet people always want to follow a strong leader. On the contrary, practicing empathetic leadership shows employees that they are an important part of the organization and that their views and opinions are valued.
Empathetic leadership allows employees to develop trust in their organization’s management which, in turn, increases their satisfaction rates. When a healthy relationship is established between leaders and employees, there are minimal chances of the employees wishing to resign from their jobs. Empathy allows organizations to retain their best employees by earning their trust and loyalty.
3. Eliminates Barriers and Encourage Better Connections
Great leaders tend to connect with people on deeper levels, which can be achieved through empathy, where they deeply feel for their followers. Without empathy, a leader may not understand their employees’ emotions, problems, or circumstances. Empathetic leadership eliminates these barriers and allows leaders to connect better with their employees.
Creating better connections through empathy is necessary now more than ever since business organizations have employees of different cultures, races, countries, and beliefs working together for the same outcome.
4. Enables Leaders to Truly Know Their Audience
One major aspect of leadership role is to convince and connect with your followers. As a leader, it is your responsibility to inspire your followers so they can do their best in their respective roles. What better way to achieve this role than with empathy?
Understanding your employees’ drives, passions, desires, motivations, and states of mind allows you to meet them at their levels, which in turn, gives you the opportunity to relate to them at a level deeper than a manager-employee relationship.
Without empathy, it is impossible to know if you are effectively reaching your people.
Practice More Empathetic Leadership Today
Displaying empathetic leadership is a great way to connect with your employees and create a positive work culture. Employees who feel heard and understood will strive to deliver the best in their work. Adopt an empathetic culture in your organization today and see your company reaching greater heights.
Andy Bush is President of Bush Marketing. Contact him today at 416-214-4298 or firstname.lastname@example.org for a discussion about how Bush Marketing can help your website do more for your business.