In our quest to become the best kind of leader we could be, we focus on a variety of skills that we could develop from communication, strategizing, planning, decision-making and more. These are all very important, of course, but we may be leaving out a highly valuable quality great leaders and everyone should have.
What does it mean to have empathy?
We’re all familiar with the word. It is generally defined as having the ability to put yourself in one’s shoes. But it’s so much deeper than that. It’s about understanding the other person’s reality and having a fully realized grasp on their reasons, motivations and struggles. When you have empathy as a leader, you break open the limits of your perspective.
Developing empathy as part of your leadership competency cannot be done overnight. It requires dedication and constant awareness of how you are relating to the people around you. You need to be able to listen without judgment, and truly understand that your perspective is not the only one – and the stories of others are equally important, perhaps even more important than yours. It’s hard work, but having empathy can turn you from a competent leader to a great one.
Here are four ways empathy can benefit your leadership.
Inspire Your Team to be More Active
A team that has no investment for the success of the organization they work for is a death knell for any company. Empathy allows you to understand what your team needs to be more engaged with the company’s goals by tapping into their motivations and dreams. This type of understanding gives you insight on what drives them and guides you towards practical solutions, whether that’s assigning different kinds of projects, pairing them with a different manager or even merely switching around their hours.
Enhance Your Communication Skills
Communication isn’t just about being able to express yourself well; it’s about inspiring others to express themselves to you. And to achieve, you need to know how to listen. Empathy involves being able to put your mind’s sole focus on another person, hearing their stories without inserting yourself in the narrative and acknowledging the importance of their thoughts and ideas. When you’re able to do this, you gain that person’s loyalty and trust, making you a well-rounded communicator.
Make More Informed Decisions
Empathy allows you to broaden your perspective, being able to understand not just your own experiences, but the experiences of others. This will enable you to make decisions for your organization at a higher level because you’re not limiting how you see pros and cons from just what you believe is best, but what is best for everyone around you.
Have a Deeper Understanding of Your Audience
Any marketing plan requires you to know who your customer is. Empathy goes beyond just what they like or dislike; it’s about understanding what a product or service means to them. This gives you a more in-depth insight into your audience’s psyche so you can relate to them better, and provide a better product or service that will genuinely benefit them.
The Rise & Lead Connect2Grow is a safe space to share your experiences and struggles with leaders who are on the same journey as you, and also a place where you can listen to the stories of others and enhance your empathy skills. Join today to experience the real feeling of community and a sense of belonging. Click here to find out more.
Ebere Akadiri is an accomplished entrepreneur and an advocate for women in leadership. Her passion to inspire others to achieve their goals drove her to found Rise and Lead Women along with her co-founder, Poonam Barua. Their mission is to inspire women to take the lead in closing the gender gap in workplaces and in business.