Leader standing in front of staff who are sitting around a table

A new age of work calls for a new mentality for leadership. As organizations shift the way they operate and employees seek greater meaning in their professional lives, leaders have an opportunity to adapt their style to create a more engaging and valuable work experience, and it begins with empathy.

An empathetic leader is a one who chooses to extend their influence by demonstrating care and consideration for other people’s experiences, needs and points of view. This ability to value other opinions and see everyone as a whole person is what allows executives, managers and workplace influencers to effectively guide their teammates and colleagues.

There has always been great value in this style of leadership, and the events of the recent past as well as the rate of change we are all experiencing are making it even more integral to business success. Let’s explore six factors inspiring the evolution:

#1 – The Globalization of the Workforce

While this trend began well before the pandemic, the move to hybrid work has made it possible to hire team members from any location. By rethinking the workspace, organizations of all shapes and sizes are finding themselves in a position to bring on talented staff from a variety of backgrounds and places. Being mindful of and curious about differing interests and perceptions will empower leaders to successfully inspire and coach a global team – not to mention, make stronger connections to their client base, which is often also quite diverse.

#2 – The Shift in Generational Demographics

There are now five generations in the workforce, and statistics show that each cohort has their own set of attitudes when it comes to work-life balance, feedback and employee voice, among other considerations. Underneath these generational generalizations are additional nuances that come from the feelings, interests and preferences of each individual in any age group. A focus on understanding and compassion will help managers better appreciate and respond to the needs of their multigenerational staff.

#3 – The Search for Meaning

Many individuals have been evaluating what matters most to them in life in the wake of the uncertainties of the past couple of years. Most commonly, their personal experiences have encouraged them to seek greater flexibility and reconsider how their professional roles can align with their personal values and ambitions. Empathetic leaders can shine when they respect the many facets of each person. They should build skill in listening and asking thoughtful questions to be equipped to have conversations that explore a person’s needs and long-term desires. Meaningful dialogue can help to make connections between purpose and opportunities at work.

#4 – The Drive for Inclusion

Employees, and particularly younger generations, are seeking diversity inside their organizations. In addition to building a positive atmosphere, companies are also recognizing how inclusion will strengthen their business through expanded innovation and creativity. To truly welcome and appreciate diversity, empathy is vital. Leaders must be willing to take notice of and embrace a variety of viewpoints and backgrounds to ensure that everyone feels included and capable of being their authentic selves.

#5 – The Focus on Mental Health

There have been some concerning statistics around well-being in recent years. On the heels of the pandemic, nearly 60% of workers reported experiencing negative impacts of work-related stress. Mental health struggles have also risen in working adults, driving personal wellness challenges as well as increased turnover and lower productivity. Many factors can contribute to burnout, and the way that people are treated is an important part of the equation. A compassionate approach shows employees that they and their voices matter at work. It can also promote a sense of belonging and trust, which contribute to psychological health.

#6 – The Impact to Outcomes

From a purely analytical perspective, empathy generates bottom-line results. 85% of employees report that empathetic leadership improves productivity and that mutually empathetic relationships across the organization result in increased creativity and revenue. Another study by Catalyst found that when leaders were more empathetic, 76% of workers reported being engaged (compared to 32% who experienced less compassion), which has a significant impact on retention and output. In summation, empathy is a smart strategy.

Company cultures are evolving to demonstrate an appreciation and inclusiveness like never before, and from my view, that’s a very good thing.

Leaders are in a position to fuel this motivating, engaging environment by using empathy as the kindling. When they embrace the inputs of others and make space to honor every person for who they are, it can ignite a change within their employees and inspire a positive, productive workplace climate where innovation and learning spark business and individual growth. Who doesn’t want that?

Discover how you can cultivate an empathetic leadership style. Explore our website or fill out the form below to speak with one of our team members today!

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