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Empathy in Business

My biggest takeaway from this Forbes article about empathy in business is not a new idea: “people may not remember what you say, but they will remember how you made them feel.” I’ve always loved this quote, and it’s why I love this article. I wholeheartedly believe it.

As the writer points out, “Great leadership requires a fine mix of all kinds of skills to create the conditions for engagement, happiness and performance, and empathy tops the list of what leaders must get right.”

The writer points to a study of 889 employees by Catalyst, which found that when people reported their leaders were empathetic, they were more likely to be innovative (61% of employees compared to only 13% of employees with less empathetic leaders), engaged (76% vs. 32% who experienced less empathy) and able to juggle personal, family and work obligations (85% vs. 60% of those who perceived less empathy).

For me, empathy has always been a crucial part of the way I operate as a leader. My best bosses all possessed and shared empathy, in addition to other strong leadership abilities. When I flew in the Navy, my Commanding Officer, Tim Quigley, always used empathy to let me know I was on track or that he had gone through the same challenge. We’ve unfairly discredited those with high levels of empathy in the business world, thinking their desire for compassion and kindness somehow shows weakness and detracts from their ability to lead; this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Are you an empathetic leader? Or do you have a story of a leader with empathy you can share?