4 Advantages of an empathetic leadership style
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The business world is revolutionising. Long gone are the days of ‘eat or been eaten’. Companies are now turning toward the self-care movement to connect with their employees and create higher-performing teams.
So what does this mean for business leaders? Their roles are evolving into more than just authority figures – leaders must have the perfect balance of hard and soft skills to suit the company’s ever-changing circumstances. And the best skill for this? Empathy.
The Australian Institute of Business (AIB) strongly believes in the power of practical learning – which is why we offer Leadership as our first subject in our Fast-Track MBA. With a strong industry focus, our MBA equips you with contemporary leadership and management knowledge that can be immediately applied in your professional life.
So what is an empathic leadership style, and how can it be used in the workplace? Read on to learn more.
What is empathic leadership?
Author and inspirational speaker Simon Sinek once said, “Leadership is not about being in charge. Leadership is about taking care of those in your charge.”
Empathic leadership is a style of leadership that focuses on connecting with your employees and understanding their points of view. It’s the best leadership style to help you recognise your team’s thoughts, feelings and emotions.
An empathic leader strives to understand why their colleagues are the way they are and what makes them tick. This enables them to connect with all personality types and get the most out of their team members. It also ensures that all employees feel more understood and less alone as they tackle any workplace challenges.
Read ‘The Characteristics of a Truly Influential Leader’.
What traits does an empathetic leader have?
Empathy is the ability to not only see other people’s emotions but to feel them as well. An empathetic person will:
- Practise deep listening – the desire to understand someone better and connect with them authentically
- Be fully present when engaging with others
- Recognise and respond to different working and communication styles in a supportive, accommodating manner.
While empathic leaders aren’t mental health professionals, they have a high emotional intelligence level. That’s because they need to not only recognise their team members’ emotions but regulate and control their own feelings.
Emotional intelligence sets boundaries between your professional and personal life. It allows you to practise empathy without being overcome with emotion or having your judgement clouded by your own beliefs.
Empathic leaders are committed to their decisions but are flexible in their approach. They can quickly assess the needs and emotions of their team and adapt to any situation. This is especially helpful in crises.
Being flexible ensures that you respect the opinions and input of others while still staying strong in your beliefs and values. It also creates a safe culture of innovation and creativity, where all employees feel secure enough to express their ideas.
4 advantages of an empathetic leadership style
It improves productivity
In 2016, the Harvard Business Review released the Empathy Index, highlighting the top most empathic companies. According to their research, the top ten most empathic companies outperformed the bottom ten by at least 50% in productivity, earnings and growth.
When your team is made aware of the positive impact their hard work has on others, they will perform better. That’s because they can empathise with the people around them. It also builds connections and stronger relationships with others, which always best out the best in everyone – especially when it comes to their work performance.
It boosts business growth
In today’s modern world, business is more about sales and revenue – it’s about people and relationships. And when employees feel valued, respected and heard, it is reflected in their work.
M&C Saatchi conducted a large-scale study in 2018 analysing over 225 big corporations in China, US, UK and France. After surveying 34,000 consumers, M&C Saatchi discovered that 18% of consumers had stopped using a brand in the last 12 months because they felt the company was out of touch with what it felt like to use their products. This resulted in a $300 million loss in revenue every year.
An empathic leader reduces the empathy deficit within their organisation, improving their team’s productivity and business growth.
It encourages collaboration
Google conducted Project Aristotle to determine what exactly made a high-performing, happy team within an organisation. The results? The secret to a successful team wasn’t hiring the most innovative, knowledgeable people. It was empathy that made the team more collaborative and accomplished.
An empathic leader is skilled at reading non-verbal cues and accessing the emotions of others. This makes them more able to address issues affecting their team and performance. Not only does this encourage collaboration, but it also strengthens teamwork, morale and engagement.
Empathic leadership also involves active listening, which enables more discussion and the sharing of new ideas. And when a group is receptive to other points of view, the intelligence of the whole team is elevated, aiding collaboration and productivity.
It unlocks the power of diversity
The modern company is as diverse as it is dynamic. Organisations are made by all kinds of people from all walks of life. And when these individuals are brought together to work on a project, everyone benefits.
Empathy allows people to understand their colleagues’ different mindsets and behaviours and embrace them more meaningfully. They acknowledge their differences and can appreciate them as a source of strength. It also makes them more likely to find common interests to help them achieve a common goal.
At AIB, we offer a practical learning approach that is effective for developing business leaders. Gain in-depth knowledge of the dynamics of leadership and how it applies to contemporary leadership practice thanks to our Fast-Track MBA. Our Leadership subject teaches students how to effectively communicate and apply relevant leadership principles to their professional lives. Check your eligibility for our MBA.