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The Value of Empathy in Leadership

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Surprise—the people you lead expect you to care about them. If you don’t show empathy in the workplace, you are not demonstrating good leadership, and you may be hurting your company’s success, says leadership expert and executive coach Loren Margolis.

“Generational shifts have brought more empathy to the fore,” she says. Different expectations from Millennials, multicultural workforces, and mergers bringing workplaces together have pushed empathy to the forefront of what’s desired in a leader.

Empathy and collaboration are edging out command and control in leadership

Margolis, CEO of Training & Leadership Success, told earlier this year that a lack of empathy in leaders will drive talented employees elsewhere. “Value-driven Gen Y and Gen Z talent will continue to leave command-and-control cultures for collaborative workplaces,” she said in the article. “The value of leadership empathy will be sky-high in 2018.”

She offers some key points about empathetic leadership:

Empathy is equal opportunity. The idea that women are more “naturally” empathetic has no scientific backing, Margolis says. Women are “allowed” to be more demonstrative: “It’s a little bit more accepted for a woman to touch someone on the shoulder and say, ‘I know what you’re going through,’” she points out. Women also have the difficulty of the “double bind,” where they want to display empathy but feel they have to display toughness.

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