Recently I invited the participants of a training session to ask me any question that they might have about leadership. One person asked me this question "What single factor do you think is critical for leadership". My answer - "Empathy". Here's why..
Unfortunately many leaders believe that paying attention to the needs of others is an unnecessary distraction from their achievement of goals. This short sighted approach however often results in them missing opportunities to improve relationships with others and to ultimately improve the firm's performance. A friend of mine gave me a great example of this when she told me about her boss who liked to hold marathon meetings without giving anyone a break for lunch. She thought that she was being an efficient manager of time but attendees resented her obvious lack of concern about their welfare and each meeting achieved less and less. In various workplaces I have also seen numerous examples of leaders losing good staff because they did not take the time to look at their developmental needs but focused only on extracting labour from them. The lack of empathy cost these leaders the efforts of good staff members and ultimately had a negative impact on the firm's bottom line.