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Empathetic Leadership Basics

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Do you believe that empathy is a vital skill for leaders? If the answer is no, have a look at these statistics about empathetic leadership and think again:

  • 61% of employees with empathetic leaders said that they were able to be innovative
  • 50% described their workplace as inclusive.
  • 86% said they could juggle life and work demands successfully. 
  • 76% reported they felt engaged.

 So, the answer to that question is a resolute yes because empathetic leaders can move the organization forward, create a positive work culture, foster engagement, boost retention, and contribute to employee happiness. Therefore, they should focus on understanding and developing their staff; that is, balancing their responsibilities to the team and to their role.   

Walk a Mile in Somebody’s Shoes…

Having empathy means identifying with or understanding the perspective or motivations of another person and to be aware of their emotions, needs, or experiences. It is, in short, the ability to imagine oneself in somebody else’s situation and react with compassion.  

Empathy in the workplace is related to job performance and is a key ingredient of leadership effectiveness. Empathetic leaders can forge the kind of human interactions that improve performance and communication. 

“Ideas excite me, empathy grounds and centers me.” – Satya Nadella, CEO and Chairman of Microsoft

What Empathetic Leadership Looks Like

Developing empathy

Empathy does not come naturally to everyone but is a skill that can be acquired and developed. According to the American Psychological Association, a person can cultivate empathy by doing the following: 

  • Be willing to grow by “adopting a growth mindset”, or believing that you can grow empathy.
  • Expose yourself to differences by, for example, participating in a culture that is not your own.   
  • Read character-driven fiction for a better understanding of others and the world.
  • Identify common ground for a sense of social connection.
  • Be willing to learn from others by asking questions. 

Developing empathy in the workplace 

If you want to develop empathy at work, check in with your team members regularly to identify signs of burnout before it causes them to become disengaged or, worse, to quit. One of the benefits of empathetic leadership is reduced turnover. 

Also, understand what each team member needs and aspires to and assign them projects that can further their career. When employees feel appreciated, they are more likely to be engaged, which is another benefit of empathetic leadership. 

Create a safe psychological space by communicating openly and transparently. Recognize and understand team members’ emotional needs and figure out ways to meet them. 

Practice active listening, pay attention to the feelings behind the words you hear and to non-verbal cues. Always ask pertinent questions and place yourself in their shoes to try to understand where they are coming from. Be aware that you may not be required to provide a solution but just to lend an ear. Finally, showing up is just as important: a manager who is a good listener fosters trust and respect.  

Cultivate compassion and kindness. Let team members know that they are supported in whatever situation they are going through. Also consider the effects that business decisions have on everyone.

Lastly, be authentic and forge relationships based on trust by connecting emotionally with your team. 

Benefits of empathetic leadership

  1. Good relationships between management and teams and between team members.
  2. Increased cooperation and teamwork. 
  3. Improved work-life balance.
  4. Higher retention and engagement rates. 
  5. Increased motivation and productivity. 
  6. Increased innovation that leads to more effective problem-solving.
  7. Reduced turnover. 

English Services’ Language Training Programs 

By necessity, learning a language implies immersing yourself in another culture and putting yourself in new situations. Our double-impact programs based on project-based learning are designed to teach a language as well as soft skills like leadership. We can meet your team’s communication needs, especially if team members are from different countries, cultures, and backgrounds. 

Request more information about our online language training programs here