Empathy, in short, is the ability to understand a person’s feelings. It’s a competency most great leaders possess and work hard to master. Empathy can make a real difference in driving a high performing team.
I’m not suggesting you need to make your employees a hot cup of cocoa and ask them about their entire life story. To be empathetic you simply need to make time for them, show curiosity and ask questions. You need to take the time to ask about their challenges, their families, their lives. You need to listen and appreciate how a person feels.
This doesn’t mean you have to agree with them or offer advice in exchange. What it does mean is that by the simple act of sitting down with someone and actively listening you are trying to understand their perspective. You are creating a ‘stickiness’ between you that will be the glue that binds your team together and makes them the warhorse you need them to be.
Here are 3 reasons every leader needs to be empathetic.
- Empathy makes people feel valued and connected. It creates a bond of trust that can have a direct impact on business results. Large teams, especially those like a call centre, can be a hotpot of emotions. Having a stronger bond with your team can enable you to calm moody waters before the waves come crashing down.
- Empathy creates a culture of transparency. Empathy requires you to be present in a conversation – to listen, to ask questions, to care. People feel safe when they can have a conversation and not feel they are being judged. A leader who can listen in a way that makes people want to speak openly to them will inspire their team to do the same.
- Empathy encourages growth and innovation. Successful people don’t operate alone. They rely on their peers and the people around them to drive them forward. When businesses fail, it is often because leaders stop focusing on understanding their people and become removed from their environment.