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What Role Does Empathic Leadership Play in the Workplace?

“The highest form of knowledge is empathy.” – Bill Bullard

Have you experienced being in a situation that gave you the opportunity to show your ability to understand people's feelings and what they've been through? If yes, I'm sure you already know what it is, and you clearly understand what happened there.

The ability you display in a certain situation where you emotionally understand how other people feel and see things from their perspective is what we call 'Empathy'. When you feel these, you tend to put yourself in their shoes so you can understand the reason behind why they're doing such things. In most cases, you will instantly envision yourself in their place and feel sympathy as you understand the feeling, but empathy is not universal and not all people exhibit this kind of ability. Some may see the struggle but will choose acting indifferently.

Luckily, empathy is a skill that can be learned and strengthened. For others who want to build and improve this skill, here are the things you can do to practice it:

  • Work on your listening skills, listen to people without interrupting them;

  • Be attentive to their body language as well as other types of nonverbal communication.

  • Try understanding people’s stand even if you don’t agree with them. Understanding them does necessarily mean you agree with them;

  • Ask polite questions to learn more about them; and

  • Envision yourself in another person’s shoes

The above-mentioned practices will help you in practicing your empathic ability. In an organization, some employees will struggle with their performance and responsibilities. I am sure, at least once, they wish that their supervisor will understand them and will be lenient. It is true that most of the supervisors are strict with deadlines, but there are still several of them who are always emphatic towards their employees, not because they want to be the favorite among others, but because that's the right thing to do.

As an employee who is thriving during these difficult times, it becomes difficult to link with your leaders and colleagues, and it's difficult to promote an interactive discussion whenever possible because of different barriers. Just like what we always hear, we are in the same ocean, but we aren't in the same boat — while some enjoy privileges, some are deprived. There are also differences when it comes to culture, socioeconomic class, beliefs, and such, but if empathy is being practiced inside an organization, you will feel belongingness, your feelings will matter, and you will be understood.

Incorporating empathy in leading can lead to positive results that will promote openness, interactive working, and a great learning environment for everyone. Here’s why empathetic leadership is important:

1. Empathy encourages positive culture

Through empathy, employees learn to understand each other, it also helps them build stronger friendships and employee-manager relationships that are based on positive relationships of trust. A positive work culture is achieved when managers, supervisors, and leaders encourage their employees to establish empathy through demonstration.

2. Empathy strengthens community

Given that the definition of empathy involves emotionally understanding how other people feel and see things from their perspective, this gives opportunities to the employees to strengthen and deepen relationships with their colleagues and people they know outside of the organization. Since globalization is almost everyone’s point of discussion, these people may be products of different cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds. By such means, empathy is necessary and will play a major role.

3. Empathy prepares employees to be leaders

It is a common knowledge that leaders must recognize people that they lead and must show that they look after them. Employees must be able to empathize with people they lead with the aim of making them feel valued because the validation they will receive will strengthen the trust between the leaders and their followers. As leaders, it is necessary to teach your team to be competent and understanding.

Here at Customized Training Solutions, we help leaders sustain and develop their own leadership skills through coaching, training and consulting. Book a free 30 minute call now to find out how we can help you!


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