Empathy: A Crucial Leadership Skill

Maria Shriver wrote a great article on the power of empathy recently (Sunday Paper, 8-7-16). Some folks believe you either have empathy or you don’t. Shriver states that there are studies that show it can be taught. Empathy is not like rolling your tongue-a can/cannot do proposition! I believe that empathy is one of the most crucial skills a leader can utilize with others. Empathy is the ability to share someone else’s feelings, and understand their experience. Sometimes you may have even walked in their shoes.

In my forty year career, I have met senior executives that perceive empathy does not belong in the workplace. I couldn’t disagree more. I became a better leader when I exhibited empathy, particularly to subordinates. Empathy isn’t compassion or sympathy; however you may use both in addition to empathy when dealing with work situations.

Empathy is also something we can use for ourselves. As many career women, I am much harder on myself then I am on any other person. Beating ourselves up (or others) doesn’t help us grow or change. If you want more caring, compassion, and collaboration, try looking at empathy as a key strategy. Especially for yourself!

 

Posted by Susan Odegaard Turner – MentorRN