Why does empathy matter in business?
Have you ever noticed how discussions of improving operations or possible solutions to today’s economic challenges rarely consider the emotional impact on employees?
In some ways, it’s not too surprising, considering that many of us have had leaders who taught us not to take things personally at work, as “it’s just business.”
The role that emotions have in managing teams influences the level of trust of team members and ultimately their performance. But to understand the emotions and needs of others we need empathy.
Why is it important to understand the needs of others?
There are tangible benefits that are derived from taking the time to understand what those around us need, as opposed to what we perceive is needed.
Leaders who take the time to understand the needs of their employees can give them the support they need to move forward, to deal with challenges or problems that might prevent them from achieving their goals.
By understanding and giving employees what they need to succeed, leaders can build a sense of trust, thereby strengthening the relationships they have with their employees and, consequently, the relationships employees have with each other, leading to higher collaboration and improved productivity.
The essential trait to be empathetic
Empathetic people listen carefully to what you say, focusing their attention fully on the person in front of them and not easily distracted by what’s on their monitor or smartphone.
They spend more time listening than talking because they want to understand the difficulties others are facing, which helps give those around them a sense of being heard and acknowledged.
One way they do this is by paying more attention to both verbal and non-verbal cues that are part of everyday communication. Making similar efforts will help you shift your focus from the story that is in your mind to the actual message that is being presented to you.
What are the advantages of empathy in leadership?
When it comes to the traits of successful leadership, empathy is rarely included in such a list. In a society dominated by male values, we are ashamed to say that we are empathetic.
As if empathy is weakness and bloodlust a quality. However, instilling a sense of empathy in the way you lead those in your care offers a number of advantages:
- Empathy allows us to feel safe with our failures because we won’t simply be blamed for them.
- Encourages leaders to understand the root cause of poor performance.
- Being empathetic allows leaders to help employees who want to be better and excel.
- Empathy enables leaders to build and develop relationships with those they lead
How can leaders support a culture based on empathy?
What differentiates ordinary leaders from those who excel at leading others is how the latter understand not to simply focus on achieving goals, but rather, they also focus on fulfilling the collective purpose of creating something value.
To achieve this, leaders must understand the inner purpose that drives each employee and align it with their organization’s goals.
By spending more time learning about the needs of their employees, leaders can set the tone and approach their employees take to achieve their organization’s goals.
It is important for leaders to remember that the story we tell in our minds is different from the story that is in the minds of others. Only by listening carefully to others can we begin to understand these differences, understand others’ needs, and build trust.
Florentina Șușnea este Managing Partner în cadrul companiei PKF Finconta. Experiența ei profesională de peste 26 de ani cuprinde domeniile de audit statutar și IFRS, consultanță fiscală, probleme de rezidență fiscală, restructurare financiară și fiscală, documentație și politici de Transfer Pricing, fuziuni și divizări, M&A, expertize judiciare, contabile și fiscale, due diligence de achiziții. Florentina este membru acreditat al următoarelor organizații profesionale: Camera Consultantilor Fiscali, Camera Auditorilor Financiari din România, Camera Expertilor și Contabililor Autorizați din România si Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists. A absolvit Facultatea Finanțe-Contabilitate din cadrul Academiei de Studii Economice, București, Facultatea de Drept din cadrul Universității ”Titu Maiorescu”, programul MBA de la Tiffin University din SUA, este doctor în economie și a urmat numeroase cursuri naționale și internaționale în domeniul fiscal. email@example.com