“Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
These are the words of Theodore Roosevelt, our nation’s 26th president, who suddenly was thrust onto the world leadership stage when his predecessor, William McKinley, was assassinated in 1901. He of all people, knew what it meant to quickly take charge – and to do so, the necessity of building relationships and consensus.
And as Teddy Roosevelt realized, leadership involves empathy – the ability to identify with and understand other people’s situations, feelings, motives and aspirations, the capacity to walk in their shoes and see things through their eyes.
The same is true in your business today.
Empathy Impacts Results
Leaders who take the time to empathize provide their employees with the support they need to forge ahead and deal with challenges and issues that may be holding them back from their goals. These leaders build a sense of trust and a culture of empathy, thereby strengthening the relationships they have with their team members. In turn, relationships between c-oworkers are enhanced as well. This ultimately results in greater collaboration and productivity.
- Empathy is not the same thing as sympathy. It also doesn’t mean you have to agree with someone in order to empathize with them. It does mean you are aware of their feelings and how they impact their perception and performance.
- Numerous studies have linked empathy to better business results. They correlate higher empathy levels with increased sales, better performance by managers of product development teams, and improved productivity in diverse workforces. It is increasingly common to see such business terms as empathy marketing, empathy selling and user empathy become part of everyday business vocabulary.
How to Cultivate Empathy
Empathy is a soft tool that can lead to hard, tangible progress. Even if it doesn’t come naturally to you, you can develop empathy and thus build your employer/employee relationships.
- Actively listen to others. Put your complete focus on the person in front of you, and wait till it’s your turn to speak. Don’t interrupt or rush to give advice; rather, wait till you’re asked. Pay attention to the other person’s body language, tone of voice, and the emotions that may be hidden behind what they’re saying.
- Take a personal interest in people. Show them that you care. Ask them about their families, their hobbies and interests, or what they did over the weekend. Empathy is like a muscle. It gets stronger, the more you use it.
The recruitment and workforce development team at Talent Bridge is tied into top talent in your marketplace and offers expertise on how you can source, retain and develop it. This includes growing your current team members into empathetic leaders. To learn more, read our related posts or contact us today.