Before discussing the importance of empathy in a leadership role, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what empathy is. Empathy is often confused with sympathy, the latter being the ability to agree or relate to the feelings of another person. Empathy, however, is the ability to understand what others need and being able to understand how their emotions affect their perception and resulting actions. As a leader, being empathetic is important for a number of reasons.
Determine the Root Cause of Performance Issues
If your company or team is suffering from poor performance, being empathetic can help you trace the root cause/s of those performance issues by putting yourself in the position of individual employees and seeing the operations from their viewpoint. Combined with KPIs, empathy can give you a complete picture of where your company or team is lagging behind and make the necessary adjustments to achieve the desired results.
Build a More Solid Relationship With Your Employees
Being an empathetic leader helps you align yourself with the values and beliefs of your employees. You can talk to them in a way that makes them feel they are heard and valued. You can help them improve individually and lead them in a way that does not contradict their beliefs or creates undesired friction between management and entry-level employees.
Turn Weaknesses Into Strengths
An empathetic leader can turn weaknesses into strengths as they feel safe admitting failures of their own as well as accepting the failures of their employees. You don’t simply point fingers and cast blame onto people. Instead, you can precisely visualize how the mistake was made and then construct a solution that doesn’t make the individual at fault feel little or embarrassed. Leading this way creates more capable employees in the long term.
Create More Attainable Goals
By knowing what their employees need and understanding their individual and collective capabilities, empathetic leaders can create more attainable short-term and long-term goals. This minimizes pressure and strained relations between a leader and the workforce that he/she leads.
Becoming a better leader means becoming a more empathetic leader. Gain a broader awareness of the needs and plight of your workers, and, in doing so, you can unlock the full potential of your leadership role.