A recent study carried out by Development Dimensions International, highlights empathy as the biggest single leadership skill needed today. In the US some companies I have worked with believe that empathy is so important that they send managers to “empathy training.”
Here are five reasons that empathy is becoming the number one leadership skill:
One of the struggles that every company faces is retaining talented staff, with the most common cited reasons for people leaving a company being lack of trust in and appreciation from those they report to. Empathy increases trust, a sense that staff are valued and cared about.
Have you noticed that when someone close to you notices how you are feeling or tells you much they appreciate something you have done for them? You automatically have the urge to do more for them. With employee engagement, it is known that when leadership demonstrates to employees that they care, the reciprocity reaction kicks in and they want to put in more effort. Somehow many companies miss this basic, yet very important point when it comes to leadership behaviours.
Not only do employees that feel valued and appreciated want to do more in their work, they want to do more for the rest of their team. When empathy is demonstrated at the top, it is passed down throughout the company, resulting in an increase in teamwork, a decrease in staff conflict, and a decrease in workplace disruption.
Staff that feel seen, heard, and appreciated feel more satisfied with their work and as a result miss fewer days on the job. As the level of job satisfaction increases, so does the level of absenteeism. Staff who feel less committed to the company will feel less motivated to come to work. Their rational is that since nobody cares, so why should they? Increased absenteeism decreases morale as members of the team pick up the slack become resentful. This can create a downward spiral in terms of employee morale and absenteeism rates.
People who perceive they are part of a company and feel heard and appreciated tend to risk more and look for ways to add increased value to the company. They are more likely to put time and energies coming up with new ideas, processes, and methods to improve their own work and move the company forward.