Why Empathy is Important to Leadership

Are you an empathetic leader?

Summary
Transcript
Widely accomplished senior operations executive and change agent, Steve Akinboro, works to accelerate results in the highly competitive retail foodservice industry. In this Leadercast Now video, Steve explains the powerful impact empathy can have on the health and productivity of an organization. Empathy, at its core, is the ability to humanize a situation; to understand the situation from the point of view of the person experiencing it and why they feel the way they do. Why is empathy important to leadership? Steve explains, “Folks within their organization look up to their leaders. Empathy is absolutely very important. Knowing how they're feeling and why they're feeling that way? It's key.” When we come to the forefront of understanding our team members and choose to be empathetic, we’re able to guide and lead them on a whole new level. Because leaders set the tone for the team or organization, it’s vital that leaders be able to sift through a situation and consider, “How should I present this to my team in a way that meets them where they are and doesn’t cause panic or uncertainty?” The tone of the organization rests on the shoulders of its leaders. Steve says, “When leaders panic, their organization panics. So we have to keep that in check and understand that people are taking notes and they are observing our behaviors and our body language.” Steve also says that a leader’s ability to empathize and set the tone for their team “has a huge impact on stress levels within their organization. We know when stress levels are high, people clam up, and the level of productivity consequently is low. “ In the comments section below, share a time when a teammate or leader demonstrated empathy. For more videos from Steve Akinboro, and others about Employee Engagement, be sure to visit the Steve Akinboro and Employee Engagement Leadercast Now channels!
Leaders have to understand that there is a fear of the unknown. It's unfortunate, because some leaders, you know, just don't understand the severity of this, because folks lower down within their organization look up to their leaders. Empathy is absolutely very important. Knowing how they're feeling and why they're feeling that way, it's key. For some folks, they are in a different place in their lives, and that job means everything to them. So be careful, because sometimes you may not even be thinking about it, but when you get to work on Monday, by not saying,"Hello. Hi, how are you doing today? How was your weekend?" some folks may read that the wrong way to think, "Oh wow, what I have done now? He didn't say hello. He just walked past. He was a little bit abrasive." And they start wonder whether there is something they have done personally that needed to be brought up, when in fact there is nothing there. When the competitors release earnings and they outperform competition, some CEOs really start to panic on that. Well, when CEOs panic or leaders generally panic, their organization panics. So we have to keep that in check and understand that, look, people are taking notes, and they are observing our behaviors and our body language. It has a huge impact on stress levels within their organization. We know when stress levels are high, people clam up, and the level of productivity consequently is low. So being aware of that, managing that is absolutely important to the productivity and the health of the organization.
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Steve Akinboro

As a widely accomplished global senior operations executive and change agent, Steve Akinboro works to accelerate corporate results in the highly competitive multi-unit branded retail foodservice industry. Steve is a consensus builder ...

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