Most of us spend a lot of our time at work. In fact, we spend more time at work than at any other place in our lives. That’s why it is so important to have empathetic leaders who understand the needs and challenges their employees face each day. When leaders take the time to connect with employees as individuals, they can create positive change that is felt throughout their teams and organizations.
An empathetic leader understands the needs, fears, motivations, and limitations of those they are leading. The ability to build relationships based on mutual respect will go miles for any leader seeking long-term sustainability in the workforce.
The emotional intelligence skills necessary for an empathetic leader come from an engaged interest in self-growth and listening intently with curiosity.
What is an Empathetic Leader?
To understand what an empathetic leader is, first, we must understand empathy.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. It is being genuinely interested in what another person is experiencing and demonstrating that you care.
While empathy can be a trait that many people have naturally, it is possible to learn, practice, and master this skill as with any other.
An empathetic leader is a person who has empathy for their team. The empathetic leader demonstrates their empathy by understanding what their team is experiencing and demonstrates they care about what individuals may be feeling.
The empathetic leader takes that understanding even further by taking a genuine interest in how their team members are feeling. They also want to be sure their team members to feel engaged and valued by their organization.
In order to accomplish these things empathetic leaders take time to listen attentively when people come to speak with them about a delicate situation or concern. They show interest and concern themselves. In doing this, they demonstrate their understanding of what the person may be going through.
Importance of Empathy in the Workplace
Empathy is a valuable trait for leaders because it helps them better understand both professional and personal challenges that may arise from their team. By understanding the challenges or concerns that their team members have, they are better prepared to lead because they are able to offer a more individualized approach to leadership. Not everyone on a team needs to be led in the same way. Each may require a specific approach to ensure they are the most successful they could be.
By doing this, it creates an environment where employees are not afraid of making mistakes. Instead it often sparks creativity and innovation because they know if they make a mistake it will not be career ending, but instead treated as a learning experience to help everyone improve moving forward.
This empathetic environment boosts motivation, which is crucial for getting work done.
Having empathy in the workplace can also be a steppingstone to success because it opens up new opportunities for understanding different perspectives and backgrounds. This helps an organization make more informed decisions by listening to all voices.
Additionally, leaders with empathy have team members that are less likely to leave their company due to low morale or motivation, especially when they know there will always be someone who cares about them on the leadership team.
An Empathetic Culture
Having one or two leaders within an organization who are great a showing empathy is a good start and their teams will flourish because of it. However, in order to see the full benefits of this, it’s important that everyone understands what empathy means and its importance in the organization. In order to create a company culture where everyone lives and breathes this on a daily basis, it must start from the top. Leaders should exude empathy and repeatedly reference its importance to ensure that it truly becomes engrained in the company culture.