Close Menu

The E-Factor in Leadership: What you don't feel can hurt you

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..

  • Empathetic leaders understand the values, needs and concerns of their direct reports and can use that understanding to assign work more effectively, provide better feedback and to create a motivating work environment
  • Empathetic leaders can better understand the needs of their bosses. Therefore when faced with seemingly unreasonable requests they can ask themselves "Why is Greg being like this?" Asking and answering the question can help them to develop a win-win way of working with Greg
  • Empathetic leaders can more readily do outside-in thinking. This means that rather than making decisions solely for the benefit of the firm, they are able to put themselves in the customers' shoes and to understand how their decisions will affect customers
  • Empathetic leaders make better work colleagues because they understand the perspectives of other leaders. They therefore avoid the trap of silo thinking and can work more collaboratively.

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.

Click here for full article

Top of Page