5 Tips to Build an Empathetic Leader
Empathy and Diversity: Together, We are Strong
Business leaders have devised a variety of techniques for motivating a diverse staff. Empathy is one of the most important of these tools. In a diverse workplace, expressing empathy requires making a genuine effort to understand where others are coming from and providing guidance that allows for some type of compromise and divergent points of view. Making time and paying attention to others promotes empathy, which helps managers perform better and appear more effective. Although task-oriented abilities like planning, monitoring, managing, and commanding are crucial in today’s settings, comprehending and developing others is possibly more necessary. A Managers must articulate his empathy the correct way. He must set aside his ideas or ideals, regardless of what he believes, and then put himself in the subordinate’s shoes, enhancing team bonding in the long run.1
5 Tips to build an Empathetic Leader2
There are a few distinct strategies that leaders can use to develop and grow their empathy for others.
1. Become a Versatile Leader
As a leader, you need to adapt your behavior. Flexibility is one essential critical leadership competency. It’s not just about how you react in different situations. It is also mainly about how you flex your behavior to adapt to different styles. According to LIFO, it starts with your own awareness of your style. This helps you understand yourself and your behavior. Understanding yourself enables you to understand others’ behaviors. Thus, your need to adapt your style to theirs. You might not prefer some of their behaviors, and this is where your empathy kicks in.
As a leader, you need to understand that others have their styles and behaviors, just like you do. Hence, you need to put yourself in their shoes and see the world through their lens. Try to capture their view about situations, even if you don’t prefer it. You need to understand and accept other people’s differences. Treat people and give them their needs even if it’s different from yours. Moreover, you need to capitalize on those differences. Having different styles among a team is a strong point, where everyone brings in various tools and thoughts. Here is when you as a leader utilize those differences and capitalize on them.
2. Be Interested
Observe, listen, and elicit information. Rather than stressing over what you’re going to say next, pay attention to people’s body language. This is more difficult than it appears because you must let go of the belief that you know better or have the correct solution. It would help if you stopped presuming you know what people were thinking and feeling—you almost certainly don’t. Even if you’re partially correct, if you’re calm and curious, there’s always more to learn.
In addition, according to research, listening to people from different walks of life tell about their life experiences, struggles, hardships, and triumphs might affect our empathy levels. Hence, organizations should allow executives to participate in this discourse and provide a safe space for employees to express their concerns and experiences.
3. Be More Present
This is also challenging since our workplaces are incredibly distracting. There’s always a deadline to meet, a crisis to resolve, or a nagging annoyance to get rid of. All of this takes us out of the present moment and makes us feel like the sky is falling. Our bodies are ready for fight-or-flight in this state of mind, which is the exact opposite of what we need to create strong connections. It is pretty difficult to leave the state. Mindfulness activities such as deep breathing and meditation are some ways we know of doing it.
4. Don't Juggling
Multitasking is when you perform more than one thing using a fraction of your brain. When you’re strolling and chewing gum, that’s fine, but when it comes to complicated cognitive work or dealing with people, it’s not. If you’re composing an email to one person while conversing with another, neither of you will be able to focus on the other. At least one of them is aware of this.
Volunteering has been shown to boost our empathy levels, according to research. Volunteering opportunities should be incorporated into the company structure. One solution is to collaborate with charitable groups. Volunteer opportunities can help employees feel like they’re making a difference and impacting their organization, in addition to improving employee empathy.
1Medinah H. Ibrahim, LIGS University, Accessed 18 Oct 2021, https://www.ligsuniversity.com/en/blogpost/managers-display-of-empathy-as-a-stimulant-for-employee-motivation
2Forbes, 25 Sep 2018, Janice Gassam Asare, Empathy: the key to a diverse and inclusive workplace, Accessed 18 Oct 2021, https://www.forbes.com/sites/janicegassam/2018/09/25/empathy-the-key-to-a-diverse-and-inclusive-workplace/?sh=1b6baba87097
HBR, 16 Nov 2016,Annie Mckee, If you can’t empathize with your employees you’d better learn to, Accessed 18 oct 2021, https://hbr.org/2016/11/if-you-cant-empathize-with-your-employees-youd-better-learn-to
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