There are many different leadership styles and qualities that make a good leader, but people tend to be most attracted to and influenced by leaders who are empathetic.
A study by BI Norwegian Business School found that employees were more committed and efficient on the job when their employers displayed increased self-awareness and insight. As leaders, listening is one of the key skills we use to give people the experience of our empathic presence and make them feel heard. But to give others our full attention and become an empathetic leader, we first need to be empathetic with ourselves.
Start With Self-Empathy
How we feel about and relate to ourselves directly impacts how we relate to the world and interact with others. We tend to place the blame for difficult feelings, such as anger or jealousy, on the actions of other people or our surroundings. Most people assume that our feelings are the result of other people or external circumstances. However, our feelings actually arise based on whether we perceive our needs as being met.
When we perceive our basic human needs, including our need to be acknowledged and respected, as being addressed, we’re content. When we perceive that they aren’t being met, or that they are being under-addressed, that’s when feelings of frustration, anger, sadness and jealousy emerge.
Validating our own needs and having the predilection to validate the needs of others is an important part of becoming an empathic leader. Being able to look people in the eye and say, “Of course you need respect/clarity/to be heard,” is the ground of empathic communication.
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