Leadership isn't taught; it's learned. And the most important skill to be a great leader is quite simple: empathy. Empathy is the key to outstanding leadership. If we look at great leaders who we aspire to be like, we can see that they all model empathy and have great compassion!
Empathy in leadership? Really?
Many people confuse management with leadership. They have an internalised view that leadership involves being the boss – someone who manages your workload, oversees everything you do and is there to pass judgement on your work.
No one likes these types of ‘leaders’.
True leadership that is driven by empathy creates a strong workforce. In fact, it's been proven that this type of leadership is far more effective than management or ‘micro-managing’, which people complain about. Empathic leadership focuses on understanding the people you work with; to give them a voice, understand them and to fully hear their opinions without being biased or letting the ego of superiority cloud judgement.
Empathic leadership focuses on understanding the people you work with; to give them a voice, understand them and to fully hear their opinions
Of course, being in a position of leadership comes with greater responsibility and every leader has tasks and goals to achieve. This can be made easier when working with, trusting and supporting your team instead of being overly demanding and creating an unpleasant working environment. A genuine interest in the people you work with develops a bond, trust and loyalty which means higher engagement, creativity, and productivity. In these workplaces, everyone benefits.
The Benefits of Leading With Empathy
There are 5 key benefits of empathy when it comes to leadership:
Empathy Builds Trust
If you lead with empathy, you'll notice how the trust is built up between you and your employees. When staff feel safe to be themselves, can work with autonomy and agency, and are able to express their needs and feel genuinely listened to and supported, the bond deepens.
This helps drive engagement and loyalty.
Empathy in leadership helps you make better decisions.
If you are more open to the ideas and opinions of others, this allows for more possibilities. Creativity and innovation can be explored and decisions can be made based on different perspectives.
Unity Within the Team
It's not just about you as the leader or the faith your staff has in you, it is also about the team having faith within themselves. Empathy in leadership helps you talk with your team, connect with them and create space for them to connect with each other. Teams who are connected raise each other up to be the best they can be and this of course reflects back on the leaders.
A study by Forbes says that innovation happens under empathic leaders. Why? Because empathic leaders are open to ideas. It's not surprising then that 61% of employees say they work really well with empathy-based leaders and not the rude ones who micromanage them.
A Happy Work-Life
Empathy in leadership helps you retain your employees. When people feel heard, safe and valued, they are less likely to resign or look elsewhere for work. Instead, they have trust in the leaders and remain loyal and engaged. About 86% of employees reported that they feel good navigating work and meeting deadlines for empathic leaders. This helps them balance work and personal life.
Empathy in leadership is not only good for your employees but also for your personal growth. As humans, we can always learn and grow. As your team achieves success, so do you. Promoting inclusivity changes the narrative of what leadership should be for the better.
So be the change. Be the empathic leader.
The world needs you now more than ever!
If you’re ready to make a positive change, contact me today, and let’s have a chat.
Lisa Jones is the Founder and Director of HeadStrong Training.
She founded HeadStrong Training® as a vehicle to teach others the importance of resilience and emotional wellbeing and feels strongly that people should be equipped with essential skills to confidently manage the stresses in life.
Lisa works in both the corporate and education sector (HeadStrong Training in Education) teaching others the importance of brain health, resilience, stress management and emotional wellbeing.
Image Credit: Jon Tyson