Empathy is what we experience when we feel other people's pain or joy—it is our ability to put ourselves in someone else's shoes, and understand and share what they are feeling. According to dictionary.com, Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
Most leaders are less concerned about the welfare or the worried look on an employee’s face in the discharge of his duties. “At least they are getting paid and should deliver whatever was assigned to them with no stories.” Says an entrepreneur who feels business should strictly be business and not be interfered with whatever issues an employee may be going through.
He may be right but don’t you think the welfare of an employee matters a lot in achieving good results and more effective results to help grow your establishments?
There was a case of a worker who usually comes late to the office, he had been called several times and issued warnings. But as much as he really tried to make it to work early, he always ended up late.
The first M.D who threatened to sack him was relieved of his job and another assumed the role the following week; but the same attitude continued. The new Managing Director called him to his office and asked to know what the problem was.
To his amazement, the new M.D found out that the employee had a daughter who was terminally ill in the hospital. Being a single father he had to go check on her every morning around 5am but the gridlock traffic in Lagos won’t let him meet up to the normal resumption time.
As hard as he tried to put his best into his work, thoughts about what his daughter was going through daily drained him mentally and physically.
If the new Managing Director had gone ahead with his threat to fire him without finding out the problem, the employee asides from having bigger problems would have lost his job and the ability to pay his daughter’s hospital bills. Needless to say, the company would have lost a vibrant person just like that.
He offered to him help by shifting the time of his resumption to 9am instead of 8am to enable him attend to his daughter in the morning before coming to work and also offered to assist him in prayers and in cash.
He went home happy and that was how the case was resolved.
Summarily, Empathetic leaders are also non-judgmental, even when the feelings of others are in direct disagreement with their own feelings. They appreciate what the other person is feeling and understand how those feelings are affecting that person’s perception, without passing judgment whether those feelings are right or wrong.
Finally, empathetic leaders are emotionally intelligent. They are able to step back from their own and the other person’s feelings and analyze those feelings in a subjective manner. Empathetic leaders don’t let the feelings involved in the situation control the outcome.
These three traits you must possess as an empathetic and effective leader: A Good listener, Non-judgmental and High emotional intelligence.