As the old saying goes, “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” While empathy may seem like a soft, touchy-feely topic, it is actually a core element of effective leadership and winning business strategies.
Leading with empathy empowers you to connect with people emotionally, which can help improve communication and relationships at work. This results in better cooperation, greater levels of trust, and, ultimately, career success.
Why does leading with empathy work?
Until you understand what someone else wants or how they feel, you cannot build rapport with them. Because all people filter information through their own experiences, leading with empathy can be an effective way to align with employees, customers, and prospects.
Empathy also breeds creativity and innovation by encouraging your team members to share their opinions and knowledge. When others feel valued for their thoughts, they are likely to respond in kind.
By leading with empathy, you can become a more well-rounded leader who people will want to follow.
What is empathetic leadership?
Put, empathy is about trying to see things from another person’s perspective and having a desire to connect with that person on an emotional level.
It isn’t just about feeling other people’s emotions; it’s about understanding their feelings and taking that into account in your own decision-making process.
Those leading with empathy seek to understand how people think and why, rather than just making decisions based on their own needs.
Empathetic leaders motivate others by demonstrating that they care about their interests and goals. This also means taking responsibility for the emotions you create, which could help increase productivity and reduce turnover.
What does leading with empathy look like in the workplace?
Leading with empathy means demonstrating it through your actions by understanding the wants and needs of your team members, customers, and other stakeholders.
Here are five reasons why leading with empathy can help your business grow:
1) Empathy makes you approachable
As a leader, leading with empathy helps people want to work for you. People who feel like they’re working alongside rather than underneath their boss will put forth more effort into their job because they feel respected and valued as human beings.
Employees who know that their opinions matter and that they aren’t simply cogs in a wheel will be more engaged in their work, producing better outcomes for the company.
Putting yourself in other people’s shoes will also give you insight into what they want, which can lead to potential business opportunities. By leading with empathy, you can assess your customers’ wants and needs and generate more revenue.
2) Empathy helps you find common ground with colleagues
Empathy opens up the door for cooperation because you’re trying to understand where others are coming from rather than simply pushing your own agenda.
This creates trust – the foundation of teamwork. And when employees know that leaders care about them as individuals, it makes them feel valued. Happier teams perform better.
3) Empathy allows you to grow as a leader
Leading others to communicate more openly helps create an environment where employees feel like they can come up with ideas and better solutions. This kind of environment will help your company keep growing because it’s based on open communication, fewer mistakes, and increased creativity.
4) Leading with empathy keeps morale high
By leading with empathy, you’ll be able to motivate the people who work for you and increase team productivity. Employees who feel like they’re part of the team and enjoy working with their peers will put forth their best work. This means better customer service, higher sales, and increased revenue.
5) Empathy leads to innovation
Empathy empowers you to see problems early on, be more innovative, and stay ahead of competitors. When leading by example, you’ll also be more likely to inspire employees to come up with better solutions as well.
Using empathy as a tool for business growth
Today, leading companies all have one thing in common: they focus on people.
Empathy plays a prominent role in business success, but it has yet to be fully embraced by the traditional corporate culture. Top organizations understand that empathy is more than just the right thing to do. They are discovering that it leads to bigger profits, better customer experiences, more engaged employees, and increased revenue.
Successful organizations know that leading with empathy is not an end goal – it’s a path to taking your company and your employees to the next level.
As traditional hierarchies continue to dissolve and virtual teams become the standard, empathy is more important than ever.
Instead of looking down the ladder at what employees can do for it, an organization needs to look up to create a culture of appreciation and openness.
In an age where people want more from their jobs than just a paycheck, empathy will be what helps businesses grow in our changing world.
The leading organizations of tomorrow will be those who put aside traditional thinking and embrace a new way of leading: leading with empathy.
To learn more about empathy, check out the following articles:
5 Signs Your Colleagues Lack Empathy
Empathy Superpower: The Key to Success at Work
Empathy Burnout: Can Empathy Be Bad For Your Career?
Understanding Empathy: What Empathy Is and Is Not