Being in an organization where the leader is unable to understand or share the feelings of an employee is destructive to the employee. And to the organization.
When a leader is able to understand or share in the feelings of another, that leader is said to be an empathetic leader. These leaders assess situations not only by the end results but by how their people are feeling. They know if they can adjust or tweak operations, they can change feelings and get a better outcome.
Think about a time when you were in a position and the leader failed to understand or care for your emotions. How did their actions make you feel?
Probably pretty crummy.
Now, what about a time when a leader could relate to or understand your feelings? What did you feel then?
Probably respect. You might have felt honored or noticed.
Empathetic leaders are able to touch the people around them. Their actions tell others that they are valued.
We all need to work harder on being empathetic in our leadership. Here are 6 reasons why empathy is a powerful tool for leaders.
6 Reasons Empathy Is Powerful In Leadership
1. Improves decision-making:
When an employee isn’t concerned they’re going to lose their job or be misunderstood for a mistake, their decision-making skills improve. The Journal of Neuroscience published research showing the negative consequences of fear on decision making.
When there’s less fear and anxiety, people make better decisions. This means when a leader is empathic and understanding, decisions are better.
2. Builds trust:
Trust is a massive roadblock in leadership. People are fearful of leaders. Not because you’re a terrible leader but because they’ve experienced bad leaders in the past.
You can build trust by being empathetic. As you show your team members that you understand them and their feelings, you lay down the foundation of trust.
They see you as more than the boss. They see you as someone who gets them.
Get them, get their trust.
3. Enables conflict resolution:
It’s hard to resolve conflicts if you don’t think the other party understands you. It’s also hard to resolve conflict if you don’t understand the other person.
The more you get the other person, the more you’re able to resolve conflict. You understand the why behind their actions. You’re able to explain that you get it. The other party becomes more receptive as they see you as a partner rather than a rival.
4. Inspires your team members:
When people are understood, they feel valued. This inspires them.
Use your empathy to inspire your team. Let them know you’re more than a boss. You’re someone who has feelings and you get the feelings of others.
5. Reduces workplace stress:
Employees don’t have to walk around on eggshells, worried you’ll go off on them when you have empathy. The stress of an emotional bomb going off isn’t there.
Your employees are able to freely express themselves without fear of repercussion.
Allow the workplace to be a bit less stressful by using empathy to deal with your employees and the conflicts that arise.
6. Supports talent retention and attraction:
Top talent goes where they feel most valued and cared for. They know they can leave a bad organization.
Talent that’s not so great will stick around. They fear that another organization will be too big of a challenge, will treat them worse, or that there’s no opportunities out there.
If you want to retain top talent and attract new talent, lead with empathy. It’s the way of the future.
3 Ways To Be A More Empathetic Leader
1. Listen more than you talk:
It’s easy to talk, talk, talk. It’s much more difficult to listen. Even more difficult is to understand.
Understanding and relating begin with listening. That’s why you need to listen more than you talk if you want to embrace empathetic leadership.
Listen, process, and discuss what your people are telling you. Their feelings and emotions will come through when you listen. You can then place yourself in their shoes.
2. Be open and vulnerable:
The more you’re open and vulnerable, the more your people will be. This will allow you the opportunity to listen and hear from their hearts.
Share your challenges and struggles. Let your people see that you’re like; you; you have issues too. This will build trust and candor with your team.
3. Develop Emotional Intelligence:
You can develop Emotional Intelligence. But you have to work on it.
Work through exercises where you practice identifying your emotions and the emotions of others. Try to write down why people feel the way they do. Use your own thoughts and ideas to work through emotional problems.
Emotional Intelligence is just like anything else in your life. The more you work on it, the better you are at it.