Every leader must be equipped with empathy

There are various attributes that go into the making of a successful leader. Good team management skills, a knack for quick decision making, aptitude to address critical situations tactfully and effective listening ability are a few. However, one peculiar trait, especially in current times that every leader should be equipped with is empathy.

What is it that makes a good leader stand out in the crowd and mesmerize you with his / her fitness in everything he / she does? Experts say that along with numerous other qualities, it is the quality of feeling empathy towards your employees and colleagues that actually makes one a successful leader and eventually leads to the success of any organizations.

You can find people in leadership roles almost everywhere you look. However, simply shouldering responsibilities of a leader doesn’t necessarily make a person n effective leader. Leadership itself is a privilege and a skill. There are many leadership skills and competencies that when combined ad applied, go toward making you an effective leader. According to, founder and principal, Jump Associates and Author of Wired to Care: How Companies Prosper When they create wide spread Empathy. Empathy is the ability to have an intuitive understanding of other people and their needs. Within a business setting, it is critical for empathy to be as widespread as possible, permeating all departments from basis to accounting to manufacturing. In today’s world, as evidenced by the terrible crisis of last year, there is a possibility that we could get too caught up in data. When we do that, we often fail to see truths that are right in front of us. Employees at all levels of an organization need to understand the people beyond the office walls—their customers, their clients, etc. This enables everyone to make better real world decisions. Over time, even the smallest decisions influenced by empathy add together to produce a more informed and nimble organization.

Empathy is a necessary attribute of a great leader but it is not sufficient. A lot more is required. In fact, some highly aggressive corporate environments see empathy as a sign of weakness. A good example of such cold bloodedness was the hot shot chief executive Albert John Dunlap, who appeared to relish the title of Chainsaw Al’ bestowed upon him for the way he could and would fire any number of employees without hesitation. Well, he was considered to be a golden CEO for a while, but he ended being denounced for an accounting fraud! And that’s the core of the matter – people who are not empathetic often end up being and short sighted instead.

Effective leaders make tough decisions when situations warrant, but they also communicate with employees and understand what they hear going through. Empathy distinguishes good leader from the great ones, in a crisis situation. It has been understood that empathy is one quality that a leader must possess in order to be successful and it also plays a role in making an organization achieve its vision. So, what are the behaviors that go into making any person empathetic towards others and how can this quality be developed? Empathy is built from three major behaviors: (1) recognizing your own shortcomings – past and present, (2) listening to others and learning more about their lives and their private challenges and (3) explicitly aspiring to a noble ideal of leadership.

If you want, your business to adopt widespread empathy there are really three steps to follow. Number one, leave the office and get outside. Go to places where people are most likely to act like themselves. Second, be genuinely interested in other people. Forget about what is that you do and start caring about the needs of others. Find the real needs first and your solutions will dramatically improve too. Third, bring evidence of the real world back to your offices. Hence it can rightly be said that even if you have all the qualities of becoming a successful leader, but if you miss the basic quality of feeling empathy towards your team mates, your journey towards success will be very short lived.. Put yourself in their shoes and see how success touches your feet.

According, empathetic leaders position people first. True empathy stems from the leader’s ability to display genuine concern towards the needs of others. High level of empathy is denoted by:

1) Listening to people: Pay attention to their tone of voice, to the hidden emotions behind, what they are saying to you and to the context. Don’t interrupt people. Don’t dismiss their concerns off hand.
2) Focusing on the non-verbal communication: The body language of people often communicates what they think or feel, even when their verbal communication says something quite different.
3) Being fully present: When you are conversing with people, don’t check your email, look at your watch or take phone calls. Allow people to have their moment.
4) A smile: It makes, people comfortable and you more.

  • I have always believed that a leader should possess it so that he/she can attend to the followers’ needs.