Why Empathy is Key for Leadership

Empathy has long been a necessary skill for leaders, however throughout the recent years it has been classified as a higher priority. Apart from being an important part of listening to and understanding people, it is being associated with driving tangible business results.

New research highlights that empathy extends to areas such as innovation and retention, both being critical for businesses. Empathy opens several possibilities for engagement, happiness and high performance. In this article, we shall be discussing why empathy is an important component in the leadership mix.

The repercussions of stress

One of the reasons why empathy is so important is correlated with the stressful lives we lead. The stress encountered over the past months also has a part to play, especially when considering that people’s lives were turned upside down. Several studies illustrate that mental health across the board experienced a dip, with sadness, irritability and issues with concentration all impacting workplace productivity. When a lack of empathy is evident within a workplace, this may spill over to the personal lives of employees, impacting their wellbeing and relationships. When employees are not treated with empathy, businesses can expect declines in performance, teamwork, collaboration, together with reduced levels of customer service and higher turnover.

Empathy enables positive outcomes for employees and businesses

Throughout the different jobs and commitments, one should expect that employees will go through rough patches. These can come in the forms of larger workloads, burnout and difficulty to find happiness at work. Empathy can serve as a positive game changer when team members feel overwhelmed. A study featuring almost nine hundred employees, found positive correlations when empathy was put into the mix. One of the findings is that when employees indicated that they reported to empathetic leaders, they could be more innovative. This may be associated with the fact that employees would be more comfortable to speak their minds. Positive results were also registered for retention and inclusivity. These elements are likely to increase employee retention and the study points out that when employees feel that their life circumstances are respected, they were less likely to consider leaving their companies.

Leaders may express empathy in different ways. One of the ways to successfully apply empathy into leadership is by putting yourself into one’s shoes, considering how you would feel if you are in that position. Successful leaders would not just imagine themselves being in that position, they also express concern, listen and act upon feedback provided by other members of staff and their respective teams.

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