By Carli Uys

Head of Marketing, Research and Development (MCom Industrial Psychology and MCom Communication studies)

Organisations should focus more on hiring and developing effective managers and leaders who are capable of moving organisations forward during good and challenging times. Organisations should start looking beyond the traditional strategies for management development and start cultivating skills that are important for success. One of these skills is empathy.

Empathy is a leadership competency that is essential when it comes to leadership. It is a core skill, if not the most important one, of emotional intelligence. Empathy is seen as a valued currency in leaders even if some people consider it as a touchy-feely discipline. Empathy can be difficult to master and it can be demanding to maintain, but it can be done. It is important for leaders to get out of their own shoes and put themselves in the shoes of their team members to be able to truly understand what it is that they are going through. Empathy has a major impact on leadership effectiveness.

Having the ability to be compassionate and to be able to connect with others is a critical part of our lives, both personally and professionally. Demonstrating empathy improves human interactions in general and lead to more effective communication and positive outcomes, both in work and in home settings.

Empathy in the workplace is the ability to perceive and relate to the thoughts, emotions and experiences of others. When a person has high levels of empathy, they are skilled at understanding a situation from another person’s perspective and reacting with compassion. This means that if a leader shows empathy towards team members and vice versa, then the leader and team members are able to establish true, empathetic connections with one another that help enhance their relationships and performance.

Empathy acts as a glue between leader and team member relationships. A leader shares a very strong bond with team members, and like in any other relationship, it also requires empathy. Empathy between leaders and team members boost the character of both leader and team member. There has been a lot of research on the role of empathy in business as well. Empathy can help humanize marketing efforts and drive sales.

As a leader, if you do not have empathy, you will not be able to get the desired results from your team members. The following are a few tips to get you started with develop empathy:

Empathy is the doorway into deeper, safer, more vulnerable relationships, which are rewarding and form the basis on which organisations can achieve optimal results. Relationships and empathetic communication are the wheels on which an organisation moves. The health of the organisation depends on the level of empathy in the leadership.

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