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Why Leaders Need Empathy

Empathy has long been recognized as a foundational trait for successful employees and even more for supervisors. New research points to the fact that empathy is of paramount importance—particularly in the stress inherent in a pandemic workplace. In an article in Forbes, Tracy Brower highlights the data and its implications. She writes, “But as we go through tough times, struggle with burnout or find it challenging to find happiness at work, empathy can be a powerful antidote and contribute to positive experiences for individuals and teams…

Leaders can demonstrate empathy in two ways. First, they can consider someone else’s thoughts through cognitive empathy (“If I were in his/her position, what would I be thinking right now?”). Leaders can also focus on a person’s feelings using emotional empathy (“Being in his/her position would make me feel ___”). But leaders will be most successful not just when they personally consider others, but when they express their concerns and inquire about challenges directly, and then listen to employees’ responses.”

Read the research and the rest of her suggestions here.