Empathy in the workplace ensures that all members of a team within an organization are heard and seen as equals. Diverse perspectives and innovative solutions are more likely to come out when everyone is given a voice.

In the latest episode of the Team Building Saves the World podcast, we sat down with Christie Turley and Robyn L. Garret to talk about the importance of empathic leadership,  and how team building can help boost empathy in the workplace.

According to Turley, people are not quitting companies, but their bosses.

“Most CEOs think they’re really empathetic, 86% of them, in fact. But then when you ask the employees, only 49% actually would agree that the CEO and the leadership are empathetic,” says Christie.

In this article, we’ll dive deeper into workplace empathy and give you ideas on how to encourage empathy among leaders in your company.

What Is Empathic Leadership?

Empathic leadership is the ability to understand what others need while being aware of their thoughts and feelings. Empathy is a vital leadership competency; however, it is often ignored as a performance indicator.

Empathy is an essential building block in various leadership styles. It allows leaders to influence people and build connections that lead to a deeper understanding of others.

Leaders who show empathy often express compassion toward others and can create a positive working environment. In a workplace that nurtures empathy, workers feel more valued and motivated toward a common goal, making them more productive in their efforts to achieve the said goal.

Empathic leadership can also boost productivity. When employees have a clear understanding of what the goal is and work together toward achieving it, results are produced more efficiently. In contrast, you might have an employee who, without that empathy and understanding, would be too afraid to share an idea that could be the next best thing for your business.

In addition to this, empathic leadership shares several traits with conscious leadership principles. Being self-aware and creating a culture of we rather than me is vital to becoming a genuinely empathetic leader.

Why Is Empathy in the Workplace Important?

The lack of empathy in the workplace can have a direct impact on your bottom line. Employees who are not motivated and supported by the leadership often lack the will to go the extra mile. In the podcast, Robyn says that it’s important to help people understand that you genuinely care about their well-being. Empathy is just one of the soft skills that can’t be ignored anymore.

“If you can help those people understand that you really care and you can back it up with your actions, then they’ll start to see you as a more empathic leader.”

Below is a list of some of the most important reasons why workplaces built on empathy thrive.

Empathetic Leaders Produce Better Results

The Center for Creative Leadership examined data from over 6000 managers in 38 countries to determine the influence of empathy on a manager’s performance at work. They found that empathy in the workplace is positively connected to a manager’s job performance. Empathic leaders are also seen as better performers in their work than those who do not practice empathy.

Empathy Improves Cultural Awareness

Encouraging empathy in the workplace could lead to better cultural awareness. A workplace is likely to have employees from various ethnicities and cultural backgrounds. By allowing employees to share their thoughts and express ideas freely, leaders can improve their cultural awareness.

This is especially important if your company hires people from around the world. When your leaders invest time to understand other cultures, employees will in turn take those same steps, ensuring better communication and understanding with clients and customers.

In the Team Building Saves the World podcast, Robyn L. Garret says that customers can sense if employees are dissatisfied with their work.

“Your customer doesn’t want to buy from you if you’re inauthentic. They can tell if your workforce is unhappy, and that comes through. Those are the people who are closest to your customers,” says Robyn.

Empathy Boosts Innovative Thinking

Empathic leaders cultivate a workplace that encourages collaboration and innovation. Employees are more likely to share new ideas with their employers when they believe that they will be heard and acknowledged for their contributions.

At the top of the company structure, leaders may not be aware of issues occurring lower in the organizational hierarchy. Being empathic and allowing honesty about employee experiences will ensure employees are comfortable voicing their opinions and new ideas.

According to Christie Turley, if you’re not modeling empathic leadership, your employees won’t either.

“If good leadership is not being modeled from the top, if empathy isn’t being modeled from the top, then people don’t know what it looks like. They don’t know. They don’t know how to model it themselves,” says Christie.

3 Top Traits of an Emphatic Leader

1. Self-awareness

Empathic leaders have a deep knowledge of themselves – their strengths, weaknesses, and what they need to develop themselves personally. Empathy is not something we automatically know – it is something developed from struggling, understanding others, and purposefully learning more about others and their struggles.

Cultivating self-awareness in yourself as a leader and within your employees is a good way to build trust and understanding in the workplace. Team Bonding’s Squad Game is an event in which teams dig deeper within themselves to discover how to think outside of the box while building solid working relationships with their coworkers.

2. Self-control

In high-stress situations at work, empathetic leaders need self-control and to learn how to control their feelings and emotions. They should avoid letting a negative situation get the better of them. Lashing out is the easiest way to ensure someone will not come to you with a concern in the future.

Self-control is a skill developed when one understands their personality style and how to make productive interactions with their coworkers. TeamBonding’s DISC Training activity aims to help individuals discover their personality styles to better understand how they and others respond to one another.

DiSC

3. Direct communication

Employees and coworkers cannot read your mind and will do something that upsets you if you have not communicated your expectations. Communicating what you expect and what you are looking for will ensure that the work gets done correctly. However, this is not a one-way street.

Empathetic leaders need to be able to lend an ear to others when they need to say something. Listening and acknowledging that you have heard them is an effective way to cultivate respect and empathy in the workplace.

TeamBonding’s Leadership Stories is an event that encourages team members to develop their leadership skills. Teams have to work through a series of challenges to earn game points by coming up with a creative solution. Deciding on the correct solution requires effective communication within the team. The goal of this event is to make each member of the team feel heard and understood.

Conclusion

Empathic leadership is essential in building cohesive and aligned business groups. Understanding what your employees need and allowing them to share concerns will help you pinpoint areas of concern within your business.

Having empathy for your employees ensures that there is understanding and better collaboration in the workplace. This leads to the more effective execution of business strategies and higher productivity.

Be sure to listen to the latest episode of Team Building Saves the World to get more insights into what it takes to be an empathetic leader and how to spread empathy within your organization.

Team building exercises will allow you and your employees to discover more about yourselves and how you work with others in a safe space. Browse through TeamBonding activities to find ideas on how to bond more with your team and build these connections.

Vipsania Pimentel

Team Contributor

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