Empathy is one of our most powerful Character Qualities, and yet it is always softly spoken. Why is empathy most essential for leaders?

A recent article published in Empathy Magazine explored empathy's value in one leader’s role. Clair recounted her experience as an empath as a ‘personality type’ and reflected on her challenges when others identified her style as ‘weak’. It was refreshing to read that a woman felt she could celebrate the softer quality of empathy as a vital one that allowed her to succeed. 

It is a brave choice to choose to care in leadership. It is much easier to be assertive and ascribe to some of the more thinking qualities. To declare yourself analytical, strategic, and willing to pioneer new visionary solutions is much more traditionally appealing – and yet not essential to leadership. To be a leader requires you to garner the loyalty and trust of your team and raise them to be the best they can be.

Therefore, all those times that people offer high-concept opinions and strong decision-making are not the moments of potent leadership. It is the time a leader looks across, sees someone struggling, and asks the right question to unlock the feelings blocking effectiveness. It is a moment when you insist your team take a two-week break over the holiday period and ban all expectations of work, as you appreciate recovery in those winter months is essential.

This complex and pivotal quality of a leader often goes unnoticed, and it is rarely named by anyone in an appraisal. Yet, it is possible to spot it in comments such as, “garners loyalty in the team,” and, “this team feel free to take risks to succeed.”

If you are looking for recognition, empathy is not the quality for you. There are others in our list of Character Qualities you might look to – influential, for instance. Yet, if you want to be that boss everyone wants to work for, you will have to take on the hardest challenge of all – empathy.

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