|Knowing what empathy is not is as important as knowing and understanding what it is. I have been working with many of my clients on developing or improving their Emotional Intelligence skills. People are talking about EQ more than ever and that’s a good thing. Being smarter with your emotions and those of others can help you to be even more effective as a leader. And one of the key qualities of Emotional Intelligence is Empathy.|
Empathy is a big buzz word these days. Yet the need for empathic leaders isn’t new. But as we went through Covid, people started looking for more from their leaders. More understanding. More transparency. More humanity. And this isn’t changing anytime soon. So developing and practicing empathy has become even more important.
Misperceptions about empathy exist. Some believe being empathetic means being nice all the time and ensuring you’re making everyone happy. Empathy is NOT about people-pleasing.
Others believe it takes too much effort to be empathetic. I’ve actually heard “I don’t have time in my day to be empathetic.” The reality is you may spend more time with or for a given individual if you’re not demonstrating empathy.
And yes, empathy and accountability can co-exist counter to what some people believe. Inc. magazine recently published an article on this topic: “You Don’t Need to Choose Between Empathy and Accountability – The Best Leaders Combine Both”. The article discusses how some consider empathy and a drive for results as mutually exclusive and how this is “wrongheaded thinking”. Good leaders understand that results are critical, but they also understand that such results can be gotten with kindness. As the article states (and I agree): These leaders “deliver results by caring for others. And they know better than to destroy trust over something like a missed objective”.
So bottom line, empathy matters. And it can be done both by having the right mindset and in demonstrating a humanness in how you treat the people on your team.