Not all people in the leadership position are worth following. There are those who are self-serving and not looking after their team. Leaders lacking in openness, kindness, and empathy are leaders only by position. They are often not viewed as a leader worth following by most people.
Empathy is one of the best leadership qualities a good leader should develop. If you want your team to be open, you need to cultivate empathy so that you can effectively lead your subordinates. For a leader to truly see the people that they are leading and to meet their needs, empathetic leadership is a must. People will care not unless they see how much you care.
What Does an Empathetic Leader Look Like?
Empathy isn’t just about taking care of people. In leadership, empathy is also to design thinking, innovation, and customer care. More than just stepping into someone else’s shoes and seeing the world from their perspective, empathy is helping people feel seen and safe, being connected to others and empowered to manage conflict kindly and inclusively.
A Truly Empathetic Leader Is Proactive
A good leader will actively seek ways to smoothen the path for their people. Instead of just solving the problem as they arise, a good leader will actively find ways for problems to not arise. Smoothing the way and removing obstacles require empathy. A truly empathetic leader has the ability to understand the wiring, needs, and pace of people. Not just that, but they respond accordingly, with compassion towards them.
An empathetic leader will proactively get to know the strengths and weaknesses of their people. It’s not about just serving yourself but it is about flying with your team.
A Truly Empathetic Leader Displays High Cognitive Empathy
Cognitive empathy is empathy based on cognitively understanding someone’s perspective. It isn’t just about being emotional, it is about being understanding and having the willingness to engage with that understanding. This is different from how we usually perceive empathy. We are used to affective empathy which is empathy based on emotion. While there’s nothing wrong with that, in leadership, cognitive empathy allows you to better engage with your people, along with their feelings and frustrations without being pulled into the emotional fray.
A Truly Empathetic Leader Makes You Feel Safe
An empathetic leader creates safety, cultivates empathy, and honors the diversity of their team. Through their leadership, everyone feels safe, valued and seen. This helps the team bring their authentic selves to work which can play a major role in making not just the team, but each individual, successful.
Empathy means slowing down and seeing other’s needs, and then helping them find an environment that works best for them. As a leader, it is your role to set people up for success. An empathetic leader understands that each person differs in the way that they are wired. Understanding each individual’s different wiring helps an empathetic leader to become more inclusive towards their people. They often provide not just a sense of inclusivity but also a sense of safety, which is really vital to a high-functioning team.
Building empathy as a leadership skill is the single greatest investment you can make for yourself, your people and your organization, especially during this time where kindness is needed more than ever.