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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Empathy in Leadership – 10 Reasons Why It Matters | Tanveer Naseer.com

Last week I had the distinct pleasure of co-hosting the weekly #LeadFromWithin tweetchat with Lolly Daskal. The subject of my chat was “The Role of Empathy in Leadership” and I have to say I was gratified by both the level of participation and depth of contributions/insights which arose during the discussion ....
Although I’ve written previously about the importance of empathy in leadership, I want to use last week’s talk as an opportunity to delve into this issue more, sharing some of the points I provided during the talk, as well as some of the insights proffered by the various participants. ...
So begins this article by Tanveer Nasser. He's writing about interpersonal relationships between individuals. But the traits and behaviors he discusses are equally valuable between an organization and its larger community, its larger audiences, its markets.

Quality marketing, public relations, community relations and government -- quality leadership and representation in those fields -- requires empathy. Without empathy, true communication is difficult, if not impossible. 

Nasser continues the article with the 10 questions he asked participants as they discussed the role empathy plays in leadership. Here are the questions, plus some excerpts of his comments:
1. What does empathy mean? ...
[W]hat empathy really means is being able to understand the needs of others. It means that you’re aware of their feelings and how it impacts their perception. It doesn’t mean you have to agree with how they see things; rather, being empathetic means that you’re willing and able to appreciate what the other person is going through.
2. Why does it matter for us to understand the needs of others? ...
3. What traits/behaviours distinguish someone as empathetic?
I’ve written in a number of pieces about the importance of listening in leadership. And how effective or intentional we are in our desire to listen to what others are saying is a key trait among empathetic individuals. ...
4. Can we learn to be more empathetic or is this an innate trait? ...
As mentioned earlier, one key trait of empathetic people is their ability to listen attentively to those around them. One way they do this is by paying more attention to both the verbal and non-verbal cues that are a part of everyday communication. ...
6. What role does empathy play in leadership? Why does it matter? ...
7. So why aren’t we being more empathetic at work? ...
8. How can leaders encourage a culture of empathy? ...
9. How can we use empathy to become a better leader?
10. If leaders could do one thing to create a more empathetic workplace, what would it be? ...
It’s also important that we remind ourselves that the story we tell in our minds is different from the story playing in the minds of others. It’s only through listening intently to others that we can begin to understand these differences.
As one of the pillars to developing empathy is being attentive to what others are saying, I’d like to end this piece with these two quotes which I think do an excellent job of capturing the very essence of the role empathy plays in leadership:
If you wish to know the mind of a man, listen to his words. – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care. – Theodore Roosevelt
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