Soft skills have a critical role to play in effective leadership development. There is a paradox however, because soft skills, such as empathy, are often the hardest skills to learn.

Empathy means understanding others and seeing things as if you were them, putting yourself in their shoes. It is therefore a moral value.

Unfortunately, often in leadership situations where there is conflict or differences of opinion in the workplace, empathy is lacking

People may aggressively stand their ground, defending their opinions and arguing against someone else’s viewpoint. This can be disastrous for resolving disputes or gaining favourable outcomes in negotiations.

Empathy is important in any interaction.  Consequently, learning it as a skill is essential to effective leadership.

How Leadership Benefits from Empathy

Empathy helps you see the bigger picture, because it enables you to see and understand the perspective of others.

As leadership is about understanding situations, weighing them up, before making critical decisions, this is enormously useful, and makes achieving your goals much more likely

Empathy can help you to reach consensus and find mutually acceptable solutions. You need to understand and appreciate the opinions, feelings and intentions of the other person in any discussion, if you want it to be useful.

It also helps with morale and creating a positive culture. Empathy makes others feel good if you show you understand their concerns and feelings; and it can make you feel good to be genuinely helpful to other people.

It allows you to connect with others on an altogether deeper level.

Is Empathy Difficult to Learn?

People can mistakenly believe that displaying empathy equates to weak leadership, that somehow it means having to agree to what others say and not be able to make your own decisions.

But understanding someone else’s perspective does not mean you agree with it. You can still assert your authority.  The idea is that your decision-making is properly informed.

An ability to empathise and take on different views is the mark of a strong leader, with the confidence to debate and discuss things openly and accept that people may have different opinions and ways of looking at things

It takes time and patience, however, to learn this skill.

It’s about proactively aspiring to become a role model for others by listening to them and demonstrating a profound, as-if understanding.

To discover how to strengthen your leadership skills, please contact us.