Influential leaders bring the skills necessary for dynamic growth regardless of external conditions. Many hiring teams develop a list of the traditional qualities they’re looking for in a leader with industry knowledge and exceptional communication skills.
More than ever, however, organizations must hire for the most essential competency of all: empathy. Empathy augments communication skills and provides several benefits to the organization.
For an organization to benefit from empathetic communication, leaders must have the capacity to put themselves in someone else’s shoes. Empathy allows them to recognize, understand and share the feelings of others. Most importantly, they develop the social and emotional connections necessary for job success.
How your organization will benefit from empathetic communication
Empathetic leaders can often sense what another person is thinking because they try to see situations through that person’s eyes. For the moment, they set aside their personal opinions or beliefs to better understand where the other person is coming from.
The numbers don’t lie. When applying empathetic communication, leaders make more of an impact on their teams. Empathy produces impressive employee satisfaction levels: retention (55% for white women and 62% for women of color) and work-life balance (86%), but that’s not all.
Empathetic communication also brings:
- Improved communication.More than talking, listening and understanding is the heart of understanding. Storytelling improves understanding, and it also creates a strong connection between leaders and team members.
- Rising engagement levels.Teams with strong links to each other are also more engaged in their work. They listen to each other and value each other’s contributions. As engagement levels rise, conflicts drop. Remaining divisions can be handled by seeing another person’s perspective.
- More innovation.Understanding the customer’s perspective fosters the kind of creative thinking that solves problems. Team members develop the confidence to deliver new products and better service.
Ways you can be an empathetic leader
Many leaders tend to be task-oriented, which leads to a laser-like focus on goals and metrics instead of people. Task-oriented leaders sometimes overlook the perspectives of others to get to the point; in doing so, they leave out empathetic communication.
Fortunately, empathy is something you can learn. To begin, try these five strategies:
- Show an interest in the people you work with.
- Listen when it matters most to the team.
- Try to understand the other person’s perspective.
- Be willing to help.
- Encourage empathy throughout the workplace.
Empathy allows you to bring out the best in your employees and yourself. By building strong social connections based on empathy, you create a positive work environment – one your team wants to be a part of.
Above all, you must Seek to Understand Before You Seek to Explain. It will lead to better, more honest communication, and that means better results.
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