Empathic Leadership

February 9, 2023

Empathic Leadership

What if a boss led with empathy?

What if one’s boss was like a friend? Typically, in a work environment, that is not expected. For a business to succeed, there needs to be workers who are driven and productive enough to make it happen, and a leader who is responsible for taking that company to that success. The common goal on both sides is to succeed, yet there is a divide between them. This divide stems from the difference in power in the two, this being that the boss has most of it. From here workers are either taught to fear or dislike their boss, it is what’s normalized in any workplace, but that doesn’t have to be the case. With that being said, what if a boss led with empathy?

There are different leading styles, the most effective one being democratic leadership. This form of leadership is where a boss makes decisions based on the thoughts and opinions of the employees. Everyone has a say, unlike in autocratic leadership. In this style, has all the power and makes decisions without any other input. Between the two ends of the leading styles, there is transformational leading, which goal is to continuously find ways to improve functions and capabilities. Laissez-faire leading, empowers employees by having an unintrusive leader. Transactional style where employees are rewarded with incentives or bonuses if they reach a certain goal set by the company, this along with other styles of leadership. Leading with empathy is more people oriented, as it relies on seeing things from the other person’s perspective, which is something that can be overlooked in business.

For a trait that is so beneficial for people and relationships, showing empathy is still considered a weakness. On top of this stigma, empathy is not the easiest thing to practice in the workplace, or in general. It takes time and patience to show awareness, and it is not easy to understand different people or employees and the situations they find themselves in. Practicing empathy in the workplace is made even harder to do because it also includes putting others before oneself, which is a challenge to do in a competitive environment; achieving a company goal is valued over the wellbeing of workers. Neglected workers is the result of lack of empathy in the workplace, which ultimately, is detrimental to a company.

To keep from harming an organization first starts with behaviour and habits. Moving to a place of empathy can happen once a desire to connect with the members of the business is present. This can appear as wanting to help. Whether it is a personal problem or work related, encouraging employees to be open, transparent and communicate will encourage feelings of safety and support within the workplace, such as being mindful of burnout. Showing an interest in team members, their hopes, dreams, and needs will prove that each member is valued and seen and will even encourage workers to become more involved.

Inspiring empathy in the workplace can go beyond the boss, by teaching listening skills, cultivating compassion, practicing genuine perspective taking, all of which will build stronger teams, trust, and improve decision making because the people working together will be treated like people. With a leader leading with empathy, a company will thrive, because once people feel they are valued, respected, and appreciated, performance will soar.