Lessons for Leaders 67: Leading with Empathy

This week I’m talking about leading with empathy.  I share with you:

  • The reasons why leading with empathy is really important, and now more so than ever before.
  • The benefits for your people and your organisation
  • The one misunderstanding about leading with empathy
  • The three types of empathy and the benefits and pitfalls of each of these.
  • Is it possible to have too much empathy?


It’s never been more important to be leading your teams with empathy.  Our people have been going through huge challenges – as indeed have you  – let’s not forget that – you’re included in this.  The challenges at work, at home, with family, friends.  People are dealing with overwhelm, burn-out, illness, loss, uncertainty and anxiety about the future and what that looks like – the list goes on.
 
When you’ve got all that to deal with why on earth am I talking about leading with empathy? 
 
Empathic leaders bring huge benefits to a team. By showing understanding and sharing empathy it means

  • The team perform better
  • They can be honest and open at work
  • More likely to embrace new situations and new ways of working
  • More gets done

Leading with Empathy

This week I’m talking about leading with empathy.  I share with you The reasons why empathy is really important, and now more so than ever before. The benefits for your people and your organisation The one misunderstanding about empathy The three types of empathy and the benefits and pitfalls of each of these.

What do I actually mean by leading with empathy?

It’s the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
 
Yes Emma, well, I’m nice to people isn’t that enough?
 
Often people think being nice to someone is being empathic but in reality is so much more than that.  Yep, being nice is important but true empathy requires greater depth.
 
When you lead with empathy you consistently demonstrate an awareness of that persons feelings and emotions.  It’s as if you step into that persons’ shoes, you feel it yourself (almost) I’ll explain more on that in a moment.

Are there different ways to lead with empathy?


Psychologists identified 3 types of empathy and I share what this means, the benefits and pitfalls of each AND how you can enhance each of these empathic skills.


Cognitive Empathy

This is about understanding thoughts and emotions in a rational rather than emotional sense.
Listen in for an explanation and example.

Emotional Empathy

This is about really getting to know someone as a whole person.
Listen in for an explanation and example.

Compassionate Empathy

This is where there is a combination of cognitive and emotional empathy.  However, compassionate empathy motivates us to take action to help the person or situation.

Can Leaders Have Too Much Empathy?

In short, yes we can.  Listen in for the explanation around this and what to look out for to guard against this. Leading with empathy in certain situations and in certain types of work environments can have it’s downfall.
It’s often called compassion fatigue and I talk more about how I’m providing training and workshops on this for many organisations I’m working with.


To summarise, incorporating empathy and emotional intelligence into your management style is a skill that can be learned just like any other.
 
Talk to me if you want to know more about how I can help you and your organisation with this.



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If you want to be increasing your performance so that you’re more resilient in these current times, so that you can focus easily, use tools and techniques to deal with all the current and unknown challenges then make sure that you either drop me an email to emma@emmalangton.com.   Or head over to my contact page and either send me a email from there or book an appointment straight into my diary – saving all that to-ing and fro-ing that you get when we try to get space in people’s diary.

This post discusses: coaching, leaders, leadership
Emma Langton

Emma Langton

Executive Leadership Coach

Emma hosts the Lessons for Leaders podcast. Each week she brings you lessons, learnings, tips and advice to enable you to lead with ease in business, without stress, doubt and overwhelm so that I help you to increase your performance, be resilient and thrive in life. Emma has been providing coaching, training and therapeutic support for executives since setting up her business in 2011. Prior to that she spent over 20 years with people at the top of national and multi-national training and communication businesses.

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