Let’s begin by uncovering what ‘empathy‘ really means. In a general sense, we all refer to empathy as weakness, maybe a soft skill or behavioural characteristics of feminine energy. We often misunderstand empathy as being kind or vulnerable. Alternatively, we view empathetic leadership as just another HR policy which looks good on paper and can never be executed or measured, and everyone will forget about it after a session or two.
As the CEO of a British bank confided at 2015 World Economic Forum, that “We all know it’s important to be empathic, but how do I galvanize 48,000 people in my UK operations — most of whom think that empathy is for wimps?”
In this hyper compulsive yet transparent world overwhelmed by social media, there is a constant demand to engage in an authentic dialogue with employees and consumers. Empathy is looked at as something that is merely a moral value. Listening to your employees and consumers and sharing their feelings is empathy. It’s an essential core skill that can improve not just profits but strategically place trust and loyalty. Empathetic leadership is the need of the hour and here’s why we say that.
Navigate through organization change smoothly
Communicating empathetically through any organizational change is critical for a successful transition. Leaders need to pay attention to how their employees respond to any new phase the company goes through. To keep employees motivated and productive, leaders should involve individuals at all levels. They must understand their needs and problems. Drafting communication by understanding their mindsets can positively impact their workflow. If you are aware of what motivates them, what are their fears and apprehensions; you can take them with you as the company grows.
People do not leave jobs, they leave their managers. When you have good managers who listen to their team, appreciate their people’s challenges and set them up for success empathetically; you create a healthy work environment. However, if leaders are focussed only on goals with a fixed mindset, it can hinder their productivity. Cultivating empathy in team meetings by genuinely listening, by being present and encouraging the quiet ones can build strong relationships.
Successful customer retention
Your customers online or offline want to build a connection with you. They want to be heard, appreciated and served in a way that helps them become a better person. By implementing empathy to the company’s marketing strategy and customer service, you can win them for life with your product or service. Rene Schuster, the former CEO of Telefonica Germany, puts it this way: “Empathy is not a soft nurturing value but a hard commercial tool that every business needs as part of their DNA. Our aim is to make every interaction our customers have with us an individual one.” When you interact with your customers empathetically, you instantly build a quality bond. They, in turn, become your brand advocates.
In conclusion, as a leader, one must imbibe empathy in three phases: internally, with employees, externally with consumers and socially with the online brand image. If you encourage enlightened leadership, empathy can be learned, and companies can improve, furthermore creating a more empathic culture for success.