Monday, April 18, 2016

The Empathetic Leadership

Many think Digital is the age of empathy, and empathy is one of the crucial ingredients of digital leadership. Empathy is the power of understanding and imaginatively entering into another person's feelings; or the intellectual identification with or vicarious experience of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another. From leadership perception, if you can understand how people think, response and behave, what they desire and what their fears are, you are better armed to manage them in order to gain their support. Therefore, the empathetic leadership with the cognitive difference is needed in today’s dynamic working environment and diversified workforces.

The first step first, learn how to listen with empathy? Being empathetic means: "that for the time being you lay aside the views and values you hold for yourself in order to enter another's world without prejudice.”  It is the ability to think as if you were in the other person’s position. The biggest challenge with empathy is reminding of yourself that stepping in someone's shoes is something different from assuming you can step into their skin. But you can always listen and build understanding by imagining what it could feel like, and acknowledging that experience, especially when it is much different than your own. It maybe about keeping a certain distance (sounds paradoxical) and being very aware of which of your thoughts and behaviors are "yours," so they don't confound those of the person you are empathizing with. The loss of listening with empathy may be a side effect of training. The lack of empathy is caused by the homogeneity of leadership setting. Today, many leaders have sympathy, but lack empathy, they intend to help and manage well, however, sometimes, it goes to the opposite direction. Both of these are major challenges to start with listening with empathy.

Empathy means using the right language with the right people: Nothing in the world, in business or in life, is black and white. It could be hinting at another important skill for great leaders, which is respecting other people as if you were in their position. What you say to one person in a culture that stresses independence and individual performance, for instance, may not be as effective when speaking to a person whose culture stresses collaboration and group consensus; judging the right language to use in different situations only comes from wisdom and experience. It's not born to a leader. Empathy is a very important soft skill that is frequently undervalued. Too many business leaders have a "my way or the highway" mentality and don't value the opinions of their employees enough.

Empathy conveys the RESPECT which is crucial in the binding of peer-to-peer relationship, connecting the minds and touching the hearts: Without empathy, there cannot be a rapport and thus no sustainable business relationships. Empathy is one of the most crucial elements in digital leadership effectiveness, due to the complexity, ambiguity, and the paradox of the world we live in. It is the ability to think as if you were in the other party’s position, to gain an in-depth understanding of the thought processes behind each action and to win the hearts via mind connection based on the golden rules and profound insight. Empathy is a very important soft skill that is frequently undervalued. It's not born to a leader, but it can be learned if you have an open mind and humble attitude.

Digital is the age of empathy, On one side, the world has become so hyperconnected and interdependent, the physical barriers such as the oceans and the mountains can no longer divide us; on the other side, due to the cognitive difference, culture diversity, information overloading and wisdom scarcity, there are still the walls in people’s hearts and the gaps on their minds, empathy is the single defining quality that will distinguish great leaders from the rest.


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