How Being an Empathetic Leader Gets Results


The first trait that might come to mind when thinking about a good leader’s qualities is assertiveness. After all, you want people to take you seriously as a leader, to believe in every word you’re telling them so that you can garner respect and improve your business’ prospects for success.

While assertiveness and assuredness are necessary, many leaders struggle with those traits and often let the power they have dictate how they should behave as leaders. As a result, they become distant, struggle to establish formidable relationships with their colleagues, and tune out reasonable suggestions due to the daily pressures they face on the job. Being a leader requires taking charge, but it also requires understanding and poise, particularly when undergoing crises or motivating employees to perform at their best. A leader who knows how to be empathetic helps colleagues get through challenging situations and drives productivity through engagement and vision-based ideologies. Leaders with empathy get results. Here’s how:

Taking a Professional and Personal Interest in Employees

Employees are people first. They have to be firm and resolute in the face of constant stresses at work and possibly have personal adversity going through as well. It’s essential to make employees feel valued and that their ideas aren’t being ignored. Research shows that employee recognition matters most to many employees and plays a role in whether or not they remain with an organization or look elsewhere for employment. Additionally, employees value transparent communication, wanting to be open with leadership about their concerns while leaders are honest about expectations and care beyond a professional capacity.

It’s important to let your employees ask questions, providing an open forum for them to voice their concerns, whether it be their professional trajectory or any personal issues. Personal and professional demands often intertwine, contributing to mental health worries. Statistics show that mental health has been declining during the pandemic. This is understandable given the uncertainty and increased burdens that employees face, whether at the office or working from home, where they have to balance personal and professional responsibilities daily.

Empathy is an essential leadership skill one can have because, in a time that people need more guidance and assuredness amid trying circumstances, empathy shows that leaders are willing to prioritize engagement and become more dedicated to facilitating relationships, encouraging innovation among their employees. Additionally, empathy helps employees establish a better work-life balance, especially while working remotely and dealing with two sets of pressures of taking care of the house while handling assignments or projects. Empathy is a layered trait that goes beyond the professional realm to deliver results.

Finding the Right Balance Between Authority and Empathy

Striking the right balance between authority and empathy requires a willingness to seek opportunities in adverse situations.

Crises compromise business operations and cancel potentially profitable avenues for businesses. But, they also set the ideal backdrop to combine empathy and authority because the willingness to learn from adverse situations facilitates collaboration. While motivating employees to put more effort into their work, it also helps find out what motivates them, their preferred working style, and how they best deal with stress. Finding out such details and gauging employee fears during a crisis allows you to give employees reason for optimism amid challenging situations.

It also helps to be flexible, whether by providing virtual communication channels for employees while working remotely or choosing an appropriate communication medium. Sometimes communicating in an email does no good because the tone can hardly be detected, and messages can be left to interpretation. Face-to-face communication adds a more personal touch to workplace interactions and allows them to see your level of concern and your leadership style first-hand.

With the right balance between empathy and authority, you can effectively communicate your organizational vision to reinforce how you invest in employees. And, you can successfully execute an authoritative top-down approach, empowering micromanagers and sharing power rather than being the exclusive decision-maker in the organization. Instilling a top-down approach requires extending support to employees constantly, showing a value of compassion and care from the executive level. Looking for opportunities to show compassion boosts employee morale.

How Does Empathetic Leadership Garner Results?

Empathetic leaders promote increased innovation, with statistics showing 61% of employees feel more innovative and provide more meaningful contributions thanks to the compassionate leadership guiding them. Only 13% of employees work well with less empathetic leaders. Wielding too much power discourages employees from sharing their ideas because decision-makers won’t consider them.

Empathetic leadership also boosts engagement and increases retention, especially among younger workers who are overwhelmingly likelier to stay with an employer that consistently displays empathy. Additionally, empathetic leadership wins more respect for CEOs and executives while making workplaces more inclusive.

Showing empathy and being less reliant on power to make critical decisions allows leaders to accelerate growth and facilitate a winning culture that all departments can believe in and benefit from.


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