Why Has It Always Been Imperative To Be An Empathetic Leader?

Empathetic leaders are those who understand the doubts, fears, and challenges of their team members and have a genuine interest in their betterment. This leads to a connection based on care, compassion, and trust.


Leaders possess many skills and qualities that help them sail through the good and bad times. One of those outstanding qualities is empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand other people’s feelings and reactions to certain situations.

Some situations often demand going beyond conventional methods of management and responding in the most appropriate way to specific situations. Only an empathetic leader can respond in the right manner during turbulent times. Empathetic leaders are those who understand the doubts, fears, and challenges of their team members and have a genuine interest in their betterment. This leads to a connection based on care, compassion, and trust. 

Meaning of empathetic leadership

The main stronghold of empathetic leadership is the skill to listen patiently to your team members, hear them out without attempting to respond immediately. One other foundation is to talk about empathy openly, encourage varied perspectives and opinions, and harbor compassion throughout. As an empathetic leader, it is important to nurture three types of empathy - cognitive empathy is all about how well you can perceive and understand the emotions of another individual without any judgment or preconceived notions, compassionate empathy is all about feeling a team member’s pain and taking the right steps and actions to help and finally, emotional empathy is all about sharing the feelings of another individual and this is the one that helps build genuine emotional connections with each other. 

Why is empathetic leadership important in today's world? 

Empathy has always been an important quality for founders, entrepreneurs, and managers in every sector. However, today it has become an indispensable trait in leaders to deal with a volatile world subjected to a pandemic, global warming, wars, and more. Empathetic leaders ensure that their co-workers feel cared for and help to make the workplace safe and comfortable for them, no matter what’s happening beyond the four walls. A hostile environment gets people stressed and they tend to serve only their own interests as compared to the team. An organization where you can rely on your colleagues and work as a team can achieve great things. 

Empathy amplifies productivity in teams 

Productivity is amplified when an empathetic leader promotes genuine care and consideration amongst team members. Such an appealing workplace also improves the productivity of the entire organization. Such employees demonstrate loyalty to their team and team leader during difficult times because of the sense of belongingness they feel as part of the team.

Empathetic leaders can also provide thought leadership with the help of the right perspective and expertise in a specific field. Since they can understand and relate to others and express their ideas in the most convenient way, team members are more than willing to accept their ideas or whatever they have to offer.

The difference between empathy and sympathy

Empathy and sympathy sound similar, but these are two different traits. Sympathetic leaders can show pity towards their team members but will really not know what it is like to be in their situation. Such leaders will not be able to connect with their co-workers at an emotional level and can show only superficial support. On the other hand, empathetic leaders will fully understand what their co-workers are experiencing and how to deal with them. 

Regular check-ins with the team

There are different ways to demonstrate empathetic leadership and show your colleagues that you care for them.

· Work burnout is a common problem today, and empathetic leaders are able to recognize it in a team member even before it becomes an issue. Thus, regular check-ins with the team, even for a few minutes, are necessary to see how they are handling the workload.

· Taking time out to understand the unique strengths and challenges of each team member and assigning them projects accordingly. This leads to good performance and employee satisfaction.

· Keeping the lines of communication open and showing a willingness to help employees with personal problems

· Whenever an employee suffers a personal loss, going the extra mile to show compassion and care for them

Empathy is what our world needs right now in the personal as well as the professional space. Certain work areas, such as pet care, child care, mental health counselling, and the like, are based primarily on empathy, a quality that makes us all more human.

(The article has been penned down solely by  Anushka Iyer, Founder and CEO, for BW People publication)

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