Empathy, empathy, they’ve all got it empathy

OK, really bad pun on the Carry On film where Kenneth Williams plays Julius Caeser and utters those immortal words “infamy, infamy, they’ve all got it infamy”!

Anyone who has been on a leadership course will have been told that a leader needs to have multiple skills in order to be effective.  They must be good at influencing others, planning, building and maintaining relationships, finding ways to improve things, set the direction of the team, create the vision and delivery the strategy.  There are so many things that a leader must be good at or develop in order for perceived success.

With the sphere of building and maintaining good relationships comes the essential skill of empathy in order to achieve engagement, happiness and performance.

These days, especially post-pandemic (yes, I am aware it’s not over yet but the way people are behaving they seem to think it is), people are suffering more from the stresses of the workplace.  You could read this into any walk of life where there is a leadership role, e.g. a voluntary position.  There has been a decline in mental health with 67% of people in a global study experiencing increase anxiety and stress. People are more openly admitting to being sad, irritable, and having more trouble concentrating, taking longer to think things through and finding it harder to juggle their responsibilities. An article in Forbes by Tracy Brower stated that more people suffer from sleep deprivation due to stress and that people experience more negative feelings that spill over into their personal lives when they get an “off” email at work.  When people experience rudeness at work it can have a negative affect on performance, turnover and customer/patient experience.

Being more empathetic during tough times can be a powerful contribution to positive experiences both for individuals and teams.

When people receive more empathy from their leaders they are more innovative, engaged and less likely to want to leave the team or organisation. People feel more included and find a better work/life balance, and therefore more able to cope with juggling their responsibilities.

Brower stated that leaders can demonstrate empathy in two ways:

  1. Consider someone else’s thoughts through cognitive empathy. Think if you were in the other person’s position what would they be thinking.
  2. Use emotional empathy.  Think what it would feel like to be in the other person’s position.

Leaders don’t need to be experts in mental health.  Its enough to check in, ask questions and take cues from what’s being said, or not said.  Where there is alignment between what the leader says and does, there is a greater feeling of trust and engagement from others. Empathy in action is understanding someone else’s problems and doing something to help. Its considering another person’s perspective with compassion.

Empathy is something that I have awoken to more during the last couple of years.  Empathy, empathy, we can all show empathy.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s