Got Empathy?

The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) claims that “empathy is a construct that is fundamental to leadership” – and I couldn’t agree more![1]  This isn’t just a nice sentiment –there’s research to back it!  CCL compiled data from over 6700 managers in 38 countries and found that empathy is indeed positively tied to job performance – leading to greater harmony, social order and role stability across the organization, and strengthening leader-subordinate relationships.  And here’s the even better news…empathy can be learned and will improve leader performance and effectiveness!  Through coaching, training and developmental opportunities, leaders can develop a stronger sense of empathy and enhance the cultural tone around them to encourage others in the same way.

So the next time you’re engaged with others around the boardroom table or just in the hallways, hone in on those active listening skills, intently listening for the meaning behind the words – pay attention to how it’s said and not just what’s being said.  Hold back judgement, cultivate a culture of compassion and encourage a safe environment for people to express genuine concerns and challenges.  Developing the ability to genuinely understand the perspectives and emotions of others will build your level of effective leadership – and go a long way to contributing to a culture of empathy around you.

[1] Gentry, W., Weber, T., & Sandri, G. (2007, April). Empathy in the workplace: A tool for effective leadership. Retrieved from http://www.ccl.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/EmpathyInTheWorkplace.pdf

Written by Shalyn Eyer