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Five ways to bridge your leadership empathy gaps

As a leader are you aware that empathy is a cornerstone leadership ability that delivers healthier workplace dynamics, improved employee well-being, and better organisational outcomes?


Leadership empathy is a critical skill for building strong relationships, fostering a positive work environment, and achieving organisational success. It helps leaders connect with their team members on a deeper level, leading to improved communication, increased engagement, and a more collaborative and inclusive team culture.


Do you have an empathy gap?


You may have an empathy gap if, at times, you have difficulty understanding, or empathising with, the feelings, experiences or perspectives of others, particularly when those others are in different emotional states or situations. This can result in a lack of understanding, misjudgement, or insensitivity toward the emotions and needs of others.


It can manifest in several ways. For example, leaders might struggle to relate to someone’s emotions if they haven’t personally experienced a similar situation. This can lead to a lack of support or understanding for individuals going through challenges like mental health issues, grief or trauma. Additionally, cultural, social and psychological differences can contribute to an empathy gap making it harder for people from different backgrounds to understand each other’s feelings and experiences.


Bridging empathy gaps is crucial for leaders to build stronger connections with their teams, promote better communication, and create a positive and inclusive work environment. Here are some strategies leaders can use to enhance their empathy:


  1. Active Listening: Practice active listening when team members share their thoughts, concerns or ideas. This involves giving your full attention, asking clarifying questions, and validating the team members’ emotions.

  2. Seek Different Perspectives: Encourage diversity of thought and background within your team. Actively seek input from individuals with various viewpoints, experiences and expertise.

  3. Practice Perspective-Taking: Put yourself in others’ shoes and try to understand their emotions, motivations and challenges. This can help you see situations from their point of view and make more empathetic decisions.

  4. Show Vulnerability: Sharing your own challenges, failures and vulnerabilities can create a sense of connection and show that you’re human too. This can encourage others to open up as well.

  5. Recognition and Appreciation: Acknowledge and appreciate the efforts and accomplishments of your team members. Recognising their hard work and contributions can boost morale and motivation.

Enhancing your empathy can be an ongoing journey of self-awareness and understanding others. By consistently practicing these strategies, leaders can bridge their empathy gaps and create a more empathetic and supportive work environment.


To find out more about our leadership coaching and the ALIGNED® talent model, please contact me at matt@twentyoneleadership.com so we can continue the conversation.





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