Be a Great Leader with Empathy

Have you ever had a boss who seemed unreasonable? Or who didn’t seem to care about you as a person? The odds are yes; most people have had a boss like this at some point in their careers. Maybe you’ve even been a boss like this. The problem is, bosses like this can inspire fear and stress in their employees. But that’s not the way to create a healthy work culture that brings out the best in each and every person on your team. No, the way to have a successful team and enviable work culture is to practice empathy with your employees.

Please note that when I say empathy, I do not mean “be a pushover.” That’s not the same thing. You can have empathy for others without compromising your work and without violating your company policies. In my time in the industry, I’ve seen this misconception come up time and time again, where bosses are so worried about being perceived as being weak, as being pushovers, that they are simply unwilling to show any empathy whatsoever with their employees. And unfortunately, this often creates a toxic work environment for the entire team. That is because the workers do not feel supported, valued, or understood by their bosses, and the managers are utterly inflexible with their teams. This creates distrust across the board. Not only that, but it adds excess stress to everybody: both the managers and the employees experience this stress because neither is feeling that human connection at work. And having a real human connection is one of the great predictors of happiness in the workplace, success in the workplace, and longevity in the workplace.

Again, I am not saying that you cannot do your job as a boss. You should do your job, which includes providing constructive criticism and feedback that will allow your employees to grow and succeed in the future by encouraging strengths and tackling any weaknesses they may have.

Whether you give this constructive criticism with or without empathy, will determine how well your employees will receive it. In other words, you can express the same information in different ways. Be overly critical or judgmental and your employees will experience a “fight or flight” response, causing them to become defensive or to shut down. But if you approach your criticism with empathy, employees are much more likely to acknowledge their mistakes because they won’t experience the same level of defensiveness. Start off by showing you care about the employee as a human being, not just as a worker. Think about it in this way: when you feel your boss cares about you, you’re more likely to feel comfortable with them, be honest with them, and enjoy your job. Wouldn’t you agree?

So think about the ways you can incorporate more empathy into your daily routine and watch your business thrive. And if you’d like to learn more about incorporating empathy into your work culture, it might be time to bring in a professional consultant. Click here for more information.