“Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”
These words from President Teddy Roosevelt ring true for all relationships, in and out of the workplace. Empathy is a vital leadership competency, one you want to encourage and develop in your managers and others. And it’s critical to solidifying good work relationships.
Today’s most successful leaders are “person-focused” – and they have mastered the skill of empathy.
What Empathy Looks Like
Empathy is the ability to experience and relate to others’ thoughts and emotions – and setting your own aside if necessary to do so. It means stepping into someone else’s shoes to truly understand their needs.
- An empathetic leadership style can make everyone feel like part of a team and enhance morale, loyalty and productivity. It’s a powerful tool characteristic of well-liked and respected managers.
- Empathy requires listening, openness and understanding. Empathetic leaders listen actively, putting focus on the other person versus themselves. They spend more time listening because they sincerely want to understand the difficulties others face. This gives those around them the feeling of being heard and recognized.
- The bottom line of any business is only reached through and with people. Empathetic people realize this. They have an attitude of openness towards and understanding of the feelings and emotions of their colleagues.
Why Empathy Matters
When a leader understands their team, they have a better picture of what lies ahead. Empathy enables managers to see upcoming challenges and developments and be better able to discern the root causes behind any performance issues. They can better help struggling employees to improve and excel.
- It’s all about relationships. Organizations are about people – and each one of them should be given a chance to both create value and be valued. Employees want to feel a sense of belonging and connection at work, and that relies on treating each other with empathy.
How to Achieve Empathy
It’s not always easy to understand why a person thinks or feels the way they do. You can build a culture of empathy, starting by training and coaching people to listen without judgment and let people know they’ve been heard. Then, provide direction that leaves room for compromise and conflicting points of view.
As defined by Steven Covey as the fifth habit in his bestselling book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, make it part of your company’s leadership philosophy to “seek first to understand, then to be understood.”
As you strive to build critical leadership skills in yourself and others, let the workplace development experts at PrideStaff Fresno help. Our mission is to deliver the value that matters most to our clients, and our goal is to foster lasting collaboration based on honesty, communication and consistent results. Read our related posts or contact us today to learn more.