by Karlin Sloan
Great leaders are empathic. They can sense the morale of their team and address a dip in energy immediately. They know when others need a dose of inspiration, and when they need a kick in the pants.
The more empathic an individual may be, the more likely they will be to help another in need. We are also more likely to express gratitude and forgiveness to one another as well. Particularly when we feel hurt by another person, we need to be able to “put ourselves in their shoes” before we can forgive them.
There is a popular myth that we need to be “hardened” at work, and that empathy is something we need in our personal lives only. That couldn’t be further from the truth. The skills of influencing, developing others, conﬂict management, and communication are critical social skills for the success of leaders. These skills are based upon the leader’s social awareness, and empathy in particular, the ability to understand what it is like to be in another’s shoes, to anticipate what they are feeling and thinking.
To develop your empathy, imagine that you are taking on the role and personality of that person. Remember that this is not an exact science; it’s an educated guess. From their perspective, answer the following questions:
1. What is my primary motivation?
2. What do I care about?
3. What are the fears that drive me?
4. How am I trying to cope with the hand I’ve been dealt?
5. What do I want?
Try to ask these questions on a regular basis and remember, empathy isn’t soft – it’s strong!