Empathetic Leadership: Why is it Important?


Do you know what empathetic leadership is? Have you considered what strategies to use to generate commitment in your work teams? Aligning the personal fulfillment of employees with the strategic goals of the company translates into greater benefits for the company. In this article, we will answer these and other questions.

What is Empathetic Leadership?

Empathetic leadership is a leadership style that prioritizes people over results, seeking understanding and closeness with team members, generating mutual trust, and from there, being able to convey the vision and motivate collaborators to achieve the objectives, resulting in a greater degree of commitment and sense of belonging.

As a leader, your primary mission is to surround yourself with a good team to achieve results and gain benefits for the organization. If you do this while paying attention to the interests and motivation of your collaborators, you will enhance your influence and exercise good empathetic leadership.

Leadership has evolved to adapt to the characteristics of modern labor relations, where maintaining excellent interpersonal relationships with collaborators is essential. The authoritarian figure of the uncompromising leader is no longer effective and is entirely counterproductive. Good business leadership should not generate fear among work teams; it should generate attraction and foster two-way trust.

The leader’s role is to generate commitment and involvement through teamwork to fulfill the mission entrusted to them and thus achieve the set objectives, avoiding the dreaded burnout in teams. For this, maintaining fluid communication based on trust with all team members is vital, making the leader an example to follow for their collaborators.

To exercise empathetic leadership, it is necessary to gather, develop, and train a series of interpersonal skills, soft skills, which, when well combined and balanced, will help you generate the commitment you need in work teams to work in a collaborative environment, fostering a sense of belonging and a clear vision of where you want to go to achieve results and the growth of people and the organization. Coaching is a tool that can help you achieve this.

How to Develop Empathetic Leadership

Do you have the emotional intelligence soft skills necessary to create a productive environment in your organization? Do you want to know how to improve assertiveness and exercise empathetic leadership in your work teams? Here are some keys.

Soft skills, or soft competencies, are a combination of general qualities that any leader can develop alongside their specific technical competencies. These competencies can be measured and developed through specific programs and online platforms such as digital business coaching. Soft skills based on the leader’s emotional intelligence are excellent tools for leading work teams. We are talking about empathy, the ability to communicate openly with assertiveness, and the ability to practice active listening. Here are the three skills to develop empathetic leadership:

1. Empathy

What is empathy? How does empathy influence leadership?

The secret to exercising leadership capable of generating commitment and fostering trust lies in the ability and intention to put oneself in the other person’s shoes and understand their motivations. This way, you learn to stimulate these motivations to achieve loyalty and commitment to the company’s overall objectives.

Well-understood empathy does not mean agreeing with the motivations, thoughts, or attitudes of others or always trying to find the good side of the situation or appearing friendly—this is sympathy. Empathy is the ability to recognize and understand the other person from their thoughts, actions, and words, being open to new ideas and approaches, giving your interlocutor the opportunity to express themselves, even if you don’t agree. And now comes into play the second significant emotional intelligence skill for leadership, assertiveness.

2. Assertiveness

What is assertiveness? Why do I need to be assertive?

Assertiveness is the ability to express opinions, feelings, desires, or requests and assert one’s rights at the right time and in the right way. This means expressing oneself confidently, in a manner that does not override others, considering the rights of others as well as obligations and, of course, being receptive to others’ assertiveness.

Exercising empathetic leadership and communicating with assertiveness, maintaining an open attitude, and considering the needs and motivations of work teams does not mean that everyone can do whatever they want.

Your assertiveness as a team leader is, therefore, your ability to set boundaries and communicate clearly and openly so that all your collaborators focus on the strategic objectives without deviating from the action plans.

3. Active Listening

What is active listening? What is the purpose of listening actively?

Active listening is the attitude of wanting to listen to understand, not to respond.

To enhance the ability for active and effective communication, you must start by knowing how to listen. Often, when we are in a conversation, especially if it affects us, we are more focused on what we think and want to say than on what our interlocutor thinks and is saying.

Developing this skill depends solely on the attitude of wanting to do it.

Combining Empathy, Assertiveness, and Active Listening

The combination of empathy, assertiveness, and active listening are three key soft skills to develop authentic leadership that fosters trust with your collaborators, making the people you work with feel more committed and aligned with the organization’s purpose.

What qualities do you possess, and which do you think you need to acquire to exercise better empathetic leadership? Remember, when leading work teams, the most important thing is always the sum of everyone to achieve the set objectives.

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