A growing body of research has proved that being happy at work matters. And in conjunction with this, it has been realized that our immediate leader contributes heavily to work satisfaction.
In this third era of management, various aspects of management have been studied and researched, and while there isn’t any sure-shot formula for a perfect leader-employee relationship, there is a quality that is essential to maintaining healthy and warm relationships at work.
In my view, EMPATHY is not only essential but also fundamental to leadership. A great leader is empathetic. He listens. He understands and he responds by being aware of other person’s feelings.
What Is Empathy and Why Is It So Important?
In plain, simple words, empathy is “To understand” other people’s thoughts and emotions. An empathetic person is able to read the other people’s thoughts and to understand their feelings. He puts himself in their shoes before responding hastily and that makes him a man others can trust.
When a leader is empathetic towards his workforce, he displays a sense of care and compassion, letting his employees trust him with their problems and weaknesses. This mutual trust that develops in the process fosters an environment of healthy and cordial work relationships and in turn, brings out a sense of belongingness and responsibility in employees towards their organization.
How to Be an Empathetic Leader?
Unlike the popular view that some people are born compassionate, the truth is that empathy can be learnt, practiced and mastered. In today’s times where businesses are spread out across continents and varied cultures, it has become imperative that leaders learn to be person-focuses sooner than later.
The first step towards being empathetic is to be making the other person feel that you are there for him. Do not confuse it with sympathy. There is a remarkable difference between them yet people often confuse the two and become sympathetic while they should act empathetically.
In order to learn the art (and behavior) of empathy, begin with the following:
- Be open-minded, open-hearted and have higher levels of awareness
- Think before responding hastily and put yourself in other’s shoes before reacting
- Make your team feel that you are there for them
- Give them an empathetic hearing in their times of stress
- Be sensitive to their state of feelings and emotions
- Be a compassionate listener, not just an active listener
- Be ready to admit your mistakes and be prompt to forgive others’ mistakes
If a leader wants his team members to dedicate themselves to his project, he needs to dedicate himself to them as well! And in the end, would like to leave with a thought if team members too need to be empathic to a leader? Do they need to realize and be in his shoes?