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

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About Turner Healthcare
As CEO and founder of the consulting firm, Turner Healthcare Associates, Inc. since 1993, Dr. Turner continuously implements the skills gleaned from over thirty five years of experience in the healthcare field. She began her career as a registered nurse in a Critical Care Unit and Emergency Department. She has served in top management roles, including Chief Operating Officer and Vice President, for various hospitals throughout Southern California. Dr. Turner was also appointed the first Statewide Nursing Officer for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Dr. Turner is an Associate Professor for the UCLA Graduate School of Nursing, Moorpark Community College, and has served as the Health Career expert for Monster.com for six years. Currently, Dr. Turner provides career coaching, planning, and advisement. She specializes in helping young adults seeking healthcare careers and individuals in transition, such as older RNs. In addition to her Bachelor's of Science degree in Nursing from Mount St. Mary's College, Los Angeles, she holds a Master's Degree in Nursing from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a Master's of Business Administration from California Lutheran University. She received her Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Business Administration from California Southern University. Her doctoral dissertation discussed the ramifications of clinical re-engineering of nursing services in the 1990’s. Dr. Turner is the author of numerous articles in national healthcare journals as well as the “The Nurse’s Guide to Managed Care,” and “The Nursing Career Planning Guide,” both published by Jones-Bartlett.

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