Empathy as an Effective Leadership Skill

What is Empathy?

Empathy is one of those feeling that is more focused on someone else’s needs than our own. While many people often confuse sympathy and empathy with each other, the two terms are very different. Sympathy is agreeing with the way someone else is feeling, empathy involves being aware of the other person’s feelings. This means that you are able to understand what they are feeling and put yourself in their shoes to better understand their needs as well. As a leader who is empathetic towards his or her team, you are able to appreciate what they are going through and this in itself, can make you a much better, and more effective leader.

Empathetic and effective leaders are often non-judgmental, emotionally intelligent and good listeners. They will spend more time listening to the needs of their employees rather than telling them what they need. By being non-judgmental, they are also able to listen to their team without making any assumptions that could affect their response. By being able to listen without judging, empathetic leaders are more capable of analysing the other person’s feelings in an effort to make the best decision for that person, the team and the company.

Empathy Leads to Trust

So why is empathy such an important skill for an effective leader? The simple answer to that is trust. When you have established trust within your team, you will then become a leader. Otherwise, you are just the person in charge of a team that feels they cannot trust you. How can you establish that trust and build your team, developing them along the way?

Show them that you are aware of their needs and their feelings and that you genuinely appreciate those feelings. Whether you agree with those feelings or not, you are showing that you acknowledge them and value that person enough to take the time to listen to them. This is the true definition of empathy and why it is such an important skill for any leader to have.

Build Stronger Relationships

When your employees know that you will take their feelings into consideration whenever they are talking to you, they will feel a better sense of trust and it will also strengthen your relationship with that employee. Stronger employer/employee relationships can lead to a stronger business through greater productivity and the increased sense of trust they will have.

Being empathetic is something that we can all do to better ourselves and make us more receptive to the needs and feelings of others. As a manager or business owner, having empathy towards others will make you stand out as a trusted leader and make you a much more successful person at the same time.

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