Motivate Your Team With Empathetic Leadership

Many organizations are now looking beyond traditional strategies to manage their employees and are now focusing only on qualities that build authentic and empathetic leadership. One of the skills in great demand for truly authentic leaders is empathy--the ability to understand another person's condition, thoughts, and feelings from their viewpoint, rather than your own.

Although empathy is now considered an essential skill for truly authentic leadership, there has been a marked lack of leading with empathy in workplaces, largely because of how it is perceived. Empathy is often misunderstood for sympathy/pity, which is demeaning. Many think it interferes with making tough decisions and often misconstrues it as a weakness. Finally, without empathy, leaders risk being perceived as "too authentic", which can result in a resentful, unhappy work environment.

empathetic leadership skills

The Power of Authentic Leadership

Empathy is a powerful tool that allows you to be open and understand points of view that are vastly different from yours. An authentic leader is one who is sensitive to overworked employees, interested in their lives, willing to help with their problems, and compassionate when they share their troubles.

If you work to be an empathetic leader, you will communicate with your employees better and forge long-lasting relationships with them. Employees will trust you with their struggles rather than find forums, such as unions and governmental agencies, to voice them. You will alienate them if you act as though their tasks are easy and their concerns unimportant.

As a leader, your goal is to facilitate optimal employee performance and certainly not to ensure that they follow instructions and rules. Ideally, you should be a coach, a therapist, a sounding board, and a support system to your employees. Organizations with engaged employees have higher productivity, profitability, customer satisfaction, and loyalty.

Benefits of Empathetic Leadership

Practicing Empathetic Leadership

You can improve employee engagement and develop people-centric cultures by leading with empathy. If you feel overwhelmed, you can always seek help and training to become a better leader. You can learn to be empathetic if you can listen, acknowledge, understand, and show sincere concern.

If you feel that your employees aren't comfortable with sharing confidence and expressing emotions, you can implement the following measures.

Aim for flexibility 

Allow employees flexible timings and leaves in times of genuine need.

Provide unconditional support

Start assistance programs to support employees with crises in their lives.

Create communication channels and internal support groups

Personally communicate support initiatives to the workforce. Transparency and genuineness from you encourage the same in employees. Similarly, form support groups and encourage employees to share how they cope with difficult times, such as health or family problems, so that others benefit from them.

Organize interesting empathy-building activities:

Organize 'executives do employee jobs' days or 'be the CEO for an hour' sessions, etc.

Your overall goal should be to develop a compassionate and helpful workplace atmosphere where all employees thrive.

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About the Author Jennifer Orechwa

With over 25 years in the industry, and now as IRI's Director of Business Development, Jennifer has gained a unique perspective on what it takes to build a culture of engagement. By blending a deep understanding of labor and employee relations with powerful digital marketing knowledge, Jennifer has helped thousands of companies achieve behavioral change at a cultural level.

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