Community//

Becoming an Empathetic Leader | Stephen Patterson

One of the hardest skills in leadership is a soft skill known as empathy. Most leaders are very knowledgeable about the hard skills that helped raise them to their current operational positions, but social skills are sometimes elusive to even the most successful CEO. This can have a very detrimental impact on employee morale, leading to poor […]

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

One of the hardest skills in leadership is a soft skill known as empathy. Most leaders are very knowledgeable about the hard skills that helped raise them to their current operational positions, but social skills are sometimes elusive to even the most successful CEO. This can have a very detrimental impact on employee morale, leading to poor service and high staff turnover. It’s important to learn how to be empathetic, especially in a leadership position. This applies to both cognitive and emotional empathy.

There are several different leadership styles, but not all of them are conducive to being empathetic towards employees. Studies show that companies thrive much better with an empathetic leader at the helm. They work well because they have a leader who is more understanding of other people’s ideas and thoughts. They also earn peoples’ trust. This applies to employees, partners, customers, and the community.

The first skill to master is active vs passive listening. An active listener knows that their job is to let the speaker feel heard and validated. Maintain eye contact, nod your head to show agreement about points being made, and really hear what your employee is saying. Do not interrupt them until they have finished speaking. It helps to remind yourself that you are only as successful as your team. They are a vital part of your organization and they should be treated as such. Ask follow-up questions to not only show you heard and understand their concerns but also to offer helpful feedback about problem-solving. The democratic style of leadership involves bringing in staff from multiple levels to help solve an issue.

In addition to actively listening and being fully present, empathetic leaders leave judgments at the door when handling conflict issues or making business deals. They are capable of disengaging from their own personal biases towards others in terms of agreement or disagreement. They have an open mind that understands we all view things in our own perspective, based on our own perceptions and view of the world. Empathetic leaders welcome those differences because it means expanding their own knowledge about things. Others’ perspectives are a welcome blessing, not something to turn away from.

This article was originally published at https://stephenpatterson.net/

Dr. Stephen Patterson was with the Orangefield Independent School District from 2002 to 2019. Outside of his career, he is an active and involved member of his community. Learn more about Stephen Patterson and his insights on leadership and education by checking out StephenPatterson.co, StephenPatterson.net, stephenpatterson.info.

    Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

    You might also like...

    Community//

    Empathy: A Crucial Skill Required in Leaders

    by Nidhi Dave
    Community//

    To succeed in tough times, try leading with empathy

    by Mona Malone
    Community//

    Developing Personal Strengths to Be a Better Leader

    by Javier Inclan

    Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

    Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

    Thrive Global
    People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

    - MARCUS AURELIUS

    We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.