Why Leaders Should Care About Empathy

Empathy-first leadership means putting connections above all else. Empathetic leaders understand the importance of getting to know the people they’re leading as people, not merely by their job descriptions.

This mindset entails stepping back - and putting your ego aside - to listen to others’ needs and wants. Not only do you display empathy, but you also develop your consciousness of the situation at hand.

In empathetic leadership, the end goals for the leader don’t have to change. Instead, these leaders do a better job communicating these goals to their followers and helping everyone see their importance. Then, they help facilitate the work toward these goals.

Why Vulnerability and Empathy in Leadership are So Crucial In Times of Crisis

A crisis heightens emotions and amplifies the sense of urgency. This often creates a stressful environment that taps into our innate fight-or-flight instincts. Our increased fear makes us less likely to listen and trust others around us.

Unfortunately, this lack of trust is the exact opposite of what we need when in times of crisis. To fight back the urge for distrust and uncertainty, leaders must build trust quickly and intentionally.

This trust-building doesn’t need to come in the form of week-long retreats and team-building activities. Leaders can build trust in their very first interactions by being vulnerable. By modeling vulnerability, they demonstrate how important authenticity and connection are to the group.

Remember, it’s hard to be vulnerable (in part because our culture has created so many myths around vulnerability). Keep in mind that anytime you allow others to see your true self - your personal philosophy, values, fears, strengths, weakness, etc. - you are practicing vulnerability and empathy-first leadership.

Author's Bio: 

Kara McDuffee is the creator and author of My Question Life, a blog dedicated to help you build self-awareness, be more vulnerable, and discover yourself. Learn how to reclaim your life and find purpose in her online guide Discover Yourself.