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Essential Empathy: 3 Ways To Improve Presence

Source | | Alain Hunkins

Darren exhaled a long sigh.

I don’t understand this. How could this gap be so big?

Darren was reviewing the leadership 360 assessment that he’d brought to the coaching session. The big gap was between the high rating he’d given himself and the low ratings his direct reports gave him in “Building Trust”.

As we dove deeper into the coaching conversation, Darren uncovered one of his core leadership beliefs.   It was an old binary story: You either hold people accountable for results, or care about them as people. But you can’t do both. In Darren’s version of reality, successful leaders needed to be tough, and empathy was for “softies”. 

Darren saw his team of individual contributors as merely that: Contributors. He had no curiosity about them. His story limited their performance, as well as his own. Sadly, Darren’s story is not unique. Many leaders discount the value of empathy and pay the cost of doing so.  

The Hard Case For The Soft Skill

Empathy is defined as showing people that you understand them and care how they feel. At first glance, this may seem like a soft and fuzzy metric. Nothing could be further from the truth.

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