The Power of Empathy in Leadership: Why You Can't Lead Past Your Empathy

Jul 10, 2024

As a leader, have you ever wondered why some employees seem disconnected or unwilling to follow you?The answer may be that they don't think you care for them. In this blog, we are going to discuss how empathy can play a major role in creating a followership and getting the most out of your employees.  

Stephen R. Covey, in his international best seller, "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People", declares that empathy is the fastest form of human interaction and connection. Empathy builds relationships and is a crucial component of effective leadership. 

You cannot out lead your empathy. Just like a master chef in the kitchen cannot out cook their servers. No matter how great the chef prepares the food, if the service is bad, the meal will not taste as good. The same is true with a leader. If they don't use empathy, their leadership will not be as strong. You may believe you can lead effectively without empathy, but it is virtually impossible. True leaders understand that getting the best out of their employees is their mission. Without empathy, it is almost impossible.

What is Empathy?

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. It is the capacity to put yourself in someone else's shoes and see things from their perspective. Empathy is not the same as sympathy, which is feeling sorry for someone without fully understanding their emotions.

Empathy in Leadership

Empathy is essential in leadership because it helps build trust, develops relationships, fosters open communication, and creates a sense of belonging. When leaders demonstrate empathy, they:

— Show employees they care about their well-being.

— Encourage open and honest feedback.

— Create a safe and supportive work environment.

— Show support for their employees. 

Tips for Leading with Empathy

1. Active Listening: Pay attention to employees' concerns and respond thoughtfully.

2. Ask Open-Ended Questions: Encourage employees to share their thoughts and feelings.

3. Recognize and Validate Emotions: Acknowledge employees' emotions and show understanding.

4. Be Present: Be fully engaged when interacting with employees.

5. Show Vulnerability: Share your own struggles and challenges to create a sense of connection.


Empathy is a powerful tool in leadership that can transform employee relationships and create a positive work culture. By leading with empathy, you can build trust, foster open communication, and inspire loyalty. Remember, you can't lead past your empathy, so make sure to cultivate this essential leadership skill.

- Dean

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