Empathy will be one of the most important skills leaders need when it comes to the future of work. In fact, a recent study by Harvard Business Review found that empathy is the most critical leadership competency for the 21st century. But what is empathy, and why is it so important? Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. It contributes to positive relationships and organizational cultures and drives results.
Empathy may not be a brand new skill. Still, it has a new level of importance, and the latest research makes it especially clear how empathy is a leadership competency to develop and demonstrate now and in the future of work.
So why is empathy so important for leaders?
One reason why empathy is essential for leaders is that it allows them to build trust. In order to trust someone, we need to feel like they understand us and have our best interests at heart. When leaders show empathy, they are able to create an environment of trust and safety, which is essential for employees to do their best work.
Empathy is also important because it helps leaders better understand the needs of their employees. By taking the time to see things from another person's perspective, leaders can gain a deeper understanding of what their employees are going through and what they need to succeed. This understanding can then be used to make decisions about things like policies, processes, and resource allocation.
Leaders who are able to empathize with their employees are also better able to motivate and inspire them. When we feel understood and valued, we are more likely to be engaged in our work and motivated to do our best.
Finally, empathy is crucial because it leads to better decision-making. Leaders who take the time to understand how their decisions will impact others are more likely to make decisions that benefit the company as a whole rather than just themselves or their department.
So, if you want to develop your leadership skills, start with empathy. It's the foundation of trust, understanding, and engagement—all essential ingredients for successful leaders.