Leading modules


Module 2 “Am I a leader?” – Leadership skills

Unit 4: Being empathetic?
What is empathy?

According to a survey carried out by the UK business magazine “Management today” interviewing a number of 2.405 managers and 2.595 non-managers to determine how much trust employees have in their executives, it turned out that female managers are much more trusted, even by men acting in non-managerial roles. After a thorough investigation of the given answers, the article concludes that all comes down to one word, which is EMPATHY.

what is empathy

If you are here reading these lines, you are on the way of becoming a leader… therefore is really important to know how the above mentioned can be achieved. Let’s start at the beginning and see what exactly empathy is.

Empathy is the ability to understand another person’s experience, perspective and feelings. In addition to that, if you are empathetic it means that you understand the other persons’ needs.

But why is this important in leadership? Why should you, as a leader, understand the needs of your team members/followers? Could that influence your decisions in any ways?

Yes, it could and would assure a more effective teamwork and greater results towards achieving your proposed goals.

Reflect on the following statements and make sure to keep them in mind:

  • Empathy allows us to feel safe with our failures because we won’t simply be blamed for them.
  • It encourages leaders to understand the root cause behind poor performance.
  • Being empathetic allows leaders to help struggling employees improve and excel.
  • Empathy allows leaders to build and develop relationships with those they lead.

Psychologists differentiate 3 types of empathy: cognitive, emotional and compassionate empathy.

  • Perspective taking, or cognitive empathy, refers to putting yourself in the shoes of others.
  • Emotional empathy, on the other hand, is feeling the emotions of others. You share their distress, anxiety, or joy.
  • Compassionate empathy drives you to help the needy without wanting anything in return.

We think that having in mind the following quote from Theodore Roosevelt, could help you achieving positive results in your new way of leadership: “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”