Can Empathic Leadership be the Secret to Your Success on a Team?

Good leaders know that they are only one piece of the puzzle. Without their team, they can’t be successful. However, in order to work efficiently and effectively with a team, leaders must have empathy as a skill.

Updated: November 24, 2021
Can Empathic Leadership be the Secret to Your Success on a Team?

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The lack of empathy is prevalent in today’s workplace. When a list of traits in a successful leader is made, empathy is very rarely on it.

However, it should be. And maybe that’s where the mistake is being made in businesses that aren’t successful.

One reason empathy is likely not seen as a leadership trait is because empathy is often seen as a weakness. 

But does compassion reduce your ability to lead or be efficient in your work? Absolutely not!

There is no reason that you cannot be both strong and empathetic.

In fact, being an empathetic leader can help foster a stronger bond with your employees than you’ve ever had before and improve workplace productivity.

Let’s take a closer look at what empathic leadership is, why it’s so important, and what practices you can put to use to become an empathetic leader that matters in the business world.

    What is Empathic Leadership?

    Before you can truly appreciate or understand how empathy plays a role in leadership, you should first understand the definition of empathy and empathic leadership.

    It is not uncommon for empathy and sympathy to be confused with one another. Empathy is not necessarily about relating to someone else’s feelings.

    Instead, empathy is about being able to understand someone else’s needs. It is being aware of someone else’s feelings and how they may impact their individual perception.

    No, it doesn’t mean you must agree with their views. It simply means that you’re willing to appreciate what they’re going through.

    With that all being said, empathic leadership is essentially having the ability to lead while also being able to connect to and relate with others.

    It is also about inspiring them and bringing out the best in them while showing compassion for their situation.

    By being an empathetic leader, you can strengthen relationships and build that sense of trust that is so important in business. 

    You are making an effort to understand others and their situation while making them feel safe and cared for.

    Why Empathetic Leaders Matter?

    Empathetic leaders are so important in the workplace because they make employees feel like they matter and feel safe.

    In order to be successful in juggling a positive work-life schedule, employees say that an empathetic leader is key in meeting these demands

    This is because leaders with empathy qualities care more. It’s as simple as that.

    Employees tend to trust empathetic leaders more as well, and trust in the workplace is so important. This is particularly true in times of stress, fear, and unrest.

    On the business side of things, empathic leadership aids in hiring and retention as well as productivity

    When your employees feel appreciated and safe, they are more likely to be engaged in the work they do. As such, productivity levels increase significantly.

    Further, when employees are engaged, they will tell others that they love where they work and what they do. 

    Word-of-mouth is the most effective (and free!) marketing you can ever have for your business.

    If your leadership is lacking, in empathy and otherwise, the workplace morale will suffer considerably, and people will quit. Employee turnover is never good for any company.

    5 Practices to Become an Empathetic Leader

    If you want to become an empathetic leader and are unsure where to start, here are a few suggestions. 

    These best practices will aid you in developing some empathy skills and behaviors that you can start implementing in the workplace immediately.

    #1: Show Genuine Interest in Others and Their Situations

    One thing about being a leader with empathy is that you need to understand the unique situations of each and every member of your team. 

    In doing so, you will be able to tailor work assignments to their individual situations, improving employee satisfaction and productivity.

    Your employees will realize that you care about their feelings and their personal situation, which will help keep them more engaged while at work and willing to put more effort in because you are willing to go the extra mile to help them out.

    In the end, showing empathy as a leader in this retrospect benefits both the employee and the company’s bottom line.

    #2: Be Willing to Help Others with Personal Issues

    For years, managers have always said to leave your personal lives at the door when you arrive at work. 

    However, as personal lives become more and more stressful, it is hard to do this. Because of this, employees’ personal lives tend to intertwine with their professional responsibilities.

    Ultimately, managers need to realize that employees are people who lead personal lives with personal problems and they cannot simply flip a switch and forget about that. 

    Managers can start showing more compassion and take on the role of supporting their team members.

    One of the best ways to show empathy towards employees is to maintain open lines of communication and ensure that employees know they can come to you when they need help professionally or personally. 

    Sometimes, employees just need someone to talk to but don’t feel safe in doing so with their manager.

    #3: Schedule One-on-One Meetings

    One of the easiest and most effective ways to know how your team members are feeling is to schedule one-on-one meetings. 

    If you don’t want to schedule them, you can at least offer these meetings to your employees so they can schedule them at their leisure if they feel they need to.

    Everyone experiences situations differently, and without a one-on-one meeting with your employees, it can be impossible to know how work or life is impacting your employees individually or as a team.

    You can choose to make these meetings formal and in the office, or you can opt for a more casual meeting in the building cafeteria or local café over coffee or lunch. 

    The more relaxed atmosphere may help your employees feel more comfortable and make the meeting feel less of an intrusion into what’s going on in their life.

    #4: Keep an Eye Out for Work Burnout

    Work burnout is a serious issue in the workplace, and when intense stress is common, it becomes that much more of a risk.

    Regardless of whether you have employees working toward a hard deadline or you have employees who are taking on too many tasks at one time, burnout can be damaging and contagious if not addressed quickly and properly.

    The reason empathic leadership is so important for work burnout is because managers with these skills will be able to recognize the signs of burnout quicker than those without similar skills. 

    This is important because burnout can lead to employees becoming disengaged with work, work-related injuries, and employee turnover.

    Empathetic leaders can catch burnout early on, reducing problems before they have a chance to occur. 

    In fact, these leaders will often create positive reinforcement and rewards for those who speak up when they feel they’re at risk for burnout. This benefits everyone, especially employees.

    #5: Implement Employee Analytics

    You may assume that analytics is for the digital world, but the truth of the matter is that you can use analytics in virtually anything. 

    So, why not use data to help you solve problems in the workplace with your employees?

    As a manager, especially if your team is rather large, you may not be able to speak or even see all of your team members every single day. This means you can’t empathize with their feelings and/or concerns on a daily basis.

    Of course, you can still do something to make you more empathic towards your team.

    You can gather real-time feedback from your team by sending out some happiness and engagement surveys. This will help you gain some insight into how your employees are feeling at any current time.

    You can then use that data to address the main concerns in the workplace and where you should put your main focus. 

    It will help you create a meaningful, actionable, and empathetic plan to boost engagement, happiness, and morale in the workplace.

    You can allow these surveys to be completely anonymous in case your employees don’t wish to put their name, but definitely encourage your employees to come speak to you about any problems they may have in or out of the workplace. 

    Make sure they understand you’re there for them.

    Wrap Up

    Empathy is a very underestimated but extremely important quality for leaders to have. It comes naturally to some, and it is these individuals who will have a bit of an advantage.

    However, the good news is that empathy can be learned.

    Empathic leadership in the workplace can make employees feel like they have a sense of purpose, improve the overall atmosphere, create happier and healthier employees, improve retention rates, increase productivity, and so much more.

    Therefore, if your company hasn’t started to instill empathy in its leaders, the time is now. In doing so, your company will become far more successful in almost every aspect.

    Just as empathy belongs in the workplace, there is a special place for empathy in your marketing campaign. 

    Make sure you’re current on the human experience and how it impacts your brand.


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    Human Crafted Content

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