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5 Ways Empathetic Leadership Improves Productivity

Manager Speaks with Coworker

Think back to the first time you became the boss. Maybe you were thrilled with the salary boost. Perhaps you relished the idea of guiding employees to success under your wise tutelage. It’s possible you were even a little nervous about it all. People who oversee the production of goods while managing the livelihood of fellow human beings shoulder an immense responsibility. And, much like a marriage or long-term friendship, compromise is an essential ingredient. Despite the implicit power differential, a healthy work environment means ongoing dialogue. No one side should exclusively dominate the upper hand. Recognizing the humanity of each employee and leading with empathy will improve every aspect your company. Let’s learn what that means for you, boss.

The Empathetic Approach

First and foremost, empathy is not a weakness. It doesn’t imply any concessions. Empathetic leadership means putting yourself in your employees’ shoes in order to resolve issues and prevent conflict. Empathy helps you to accurately assess your staff’s motivations so that you make decisions that work for both sides whenever possible.

Let’s take, for example, the coworker who needs to convert to a flexible schedule. She has a long commute that hampers her ability to care for her children. Can she be as effective working from home several days per week? She has proven herself to be responsible and conscientious during her tenure. She is an asset. Working away from the workplace doesn’t prevent her from doing her job. You don’t have kids, but you know how time-consuming a commute can be. Therefore, you can allow it, so long as she continues to be just as effective. Now she feels respected and you have a more loyal employee, which saves you the hassle of replacing her.

There is robust debate about whether empathy can be taught or if it’s an inherent trait in each person. So if you’re concerned about whether this management style will suit you, you simply have to walk the walk. You can learn to be more empathetic by doing the acts of an empathetic person. Here are five simple changes you can make:

5 Paths Towards Empathetic Leadership

  • I’m All Ears: The number one act you must engage in is listening to your employees. When you really hear their concerns, you’re solving your own problems too. If they’re telling you that they don’t have the equipment they need, don’t instantly consider the cost. Listen to how that’s preventing them from being as efficient as they should be.
  • Onward and Upward: Encouraging your employees to reach for their goals means they’re reaching for your goals too. If they are interested in participating in a training class, for instance, examine how that will improve their value to the company in the long run. Find out what each employee wants out of their jobs and help with with their aspirations.
  • In it Together: Teamwork is essential for making all the cogs in the wheels run smoothly. By promoting collaboration and being mindful of the needs of each member of the group, you’re creating a more cohesive environment that’s likely to reach their objectives and beyond.
  • The “Yay!” Factor”: The success of your employees means success for the company. Acknowledging accomplishments is an important part of demonstrating empathy. No matter who they are, your employees hunger for validation. Showing appreciation through a simple “thank you”, a gift card, or even a salary increase are all ways to encourage future triumphs.
  • Burning Questions: When was the last time you asked an employee how they were doing? Do they need anything? Is there anything you can do to help? Do they have any feedback about the company they’d like to share?

Sea Change, See Change

Most of us, at one time or another, have had the unfortunate luck of being part of a hostile work environment. We’ve had managers pointing to their watches as we arrive a few minutes late on a rough morning. We’ve had difficult coworkers whose antics are ignored by those in positions of authority. Supervisors in these environments often criticize while rarely offering encouragement or approval. None of these are characteristics of a thriving workplace. This is not a place where ideas thrive and innovation is rampant.

However, when you have leadership that is willing to step in and step up, change is possible. The culture can be turned around. The workplace can improve and flourish again. By implementing an empathetic leadership style, where ideas are heard and employees are encouraged, growth is in the air and the road to progress is paved. is an online time and expense tracking software for employees and contractors. Need to track attendance, projects, time off, and more? Start a FREE trial to see how it works!

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