Let's begin with the definition of leadership:
LEADERSHIP: the harnessing of social influence to maximize the efforts of others toward the achievement of a shared goal your text here...
To lead others effectively with social influence, here's what you need to know...
To positively influence the thoughts & behaviors of others so that their actions are in alignment with what you and your organization need to accomplish, empathy is critical. Without it, positively influencing others and moving them into positive action will always be an uphill battle.
There are three types of empathy that the most effective leaders bring to the table when leading others...
employing thought and intellect to better understand and comprehend – on an intellectual level – how others are thinking and feeling.
This is all about learning to use the power of observation and critical thinking to better understand the perspective of others (how they might be feeling and what they might be thinking).
You can gain this insight by seeking to identify the answers to the following questions:
(Remember to resist the urge to assume everyone's answers will be the same as yours. Emotionally intelligent individuals know that everyone around them operates with a unique combination of core values, belief systems, and interaction styles that heavily influence how they perceive and react to the world around them. Your goal is to identify the answers that are true for them.)
Then, consider how the insight gained from asking the questions above might be influencing...
physically feeling the emotions another person is experiencing to better relate and build an emotional connection.
If you're not empathetic by nature, you CAN develop this type of empathy BUT NOT WITHOUT conscious thought and intentionality. It's not easy, but it can be done. You have to choose to work diligently to improve in this area.
This is all about learning to sense within yourself what another person is feeling and then to feel those emotions with them. You can do this by:
powerfully combining Cognitive Empathy and Emotional Empathy to show appropriate concern
This is a choice. Either you will or you won't engage in Compassionate Empathy.
Choose to use your HEAD (to understand why) and your HEART (to care enough) to take ACTION and respond in ways that positively impact others. Do this by asking yourself...
"Now that I better understand HOW they're feeling and WHY they are thinking & behaving in the ways that they are, how can I use this awareness and insight to be much more thoughtful with how I choose to communicate and interact with them so that I elicit the positive response I seek while also ensuring that they feel important, comfortable, and respected?"
Like most skills, empathy can be learned and honed over time. But it won't happen without thoughtful decision-making and disciplined, on-going practice. There's no Empathy Fairy who will magically appear one night and make you more empathetic with a single tap of her wand. Sadly, it doesn't work like that. But no worries...with disciplined, ongoing practice you can acquire and strengthen this skill on your own. Get after it!