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Empathy as a leadership skill


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“When you start to develop your powers of empathy and imagination, the whole world opens up to you.” 

– Susan Sarandon 


Very few people would come up with "empathy" as a skill required to be a good leader in a corporate structure. But here it is. It is being increasingly defined as an "unexpected skill" desired in all levels of management, as part of having a good EQ (Emotional quotient) besides a good IQ. Leaders in the workplace with empathy are considered assets to their companies and perform better in their workplace. Empathy as well know is the ability to understand & share the feelings of another human being. Actually, why limit ourselves to human beings, empathy towards all living beings on this planet makes for a better human being who is sensitive and more evolved. 

How to be more empathic at work: 

Develop listening skills. One of the most important qualities of a human being is to be a good listener. So as part of the management team start paying attention more, talking less, and being focused when others are sharing. This way your colleagues feel respected and appreciated. Be an active listener. 

Encourage different perspectives to emerge from your workforce. Have an open mind and this will result in more ideas flowing back and forth. 

Become a spiritual person with a focus on deep breathing, meditation, yoga, etc to develop qualities such as compassion, mindfulness, empathy, and calmness both at work and at home. 

Cultivate a spirit of compassion and empathy in the workplace. The buck stops with the management; hence the lead also needs to come from them as well. Talk about it in meetings and sessions. But as management, you need to walk the talk and demonstrate the same on a daily basis. 

Be flexible at the approach and at work. 

Cultivate the use of words such as "thank you", "please", "sorry". Be sincere and make sure you mean it. Have a genuine smile and show camaraderie to all. 

Encourage & motivate. Support your team there for them in all situations including negatives ones. They should know you have their back at all times. 

The mental, physical, and emotional wellness of your employees/team members are more important than goals/deadlines/targets. Foster this environment and see the results over time. Take care of your people on a daily basis. For example, if someone is going through a personal crisis, give him / her time off, or to look after a sick relative. 


The benefits of empathy at the workplace: 

Increase in employee retention by around 25% 

Increase in productivity of the employee 

A positive and energetic work culture 

Increased participation & collaboration by employees 

To be a good manager, it is now essential to develop "intangible" skills such as EQ, compassion, empathy, and so on. Do you have it in you? If not, it's time to 

start developing the same and becoming an effective leader who looks out for all in the office at all times. 

About the Author

Rahul Ray

Rahul is a seasoned consultant in travel, transport and hospitality sector subject matter expert with over 20 years of experience and constantly challenging himself to re-define travel distribution and channels, Dedicated Son, Love Nature and Politics both

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