How to Show Empathy through Your Leadership Style

Empathy and Your Leadership Style

Knowing how to show empathy through your leadership style, especially during a crisis, can be one of the most poignant and defining elements of your career. That is a big statement, I know. However, can you think of a way that you can meaningfully make a greater difference in the lives of the people you lead than by showing them empathy?

How to Show Empathy

As we discussed in the last post, you probably realize your team members are dealing with a lot of added stress as the pandemic continues. I would contend that one of the most virulent facets of their stress is uncertainty—fear of the unknown. It is likely that a number of your team members feel in the dark or out of the loop about various things they’re dealing with in their personal lives. You can show great empathy by having their work situation be one about which they are crystal clear. Keep them informed. One of the biggest ways you can be helpful to them and show empathy is to help them navigate through this time.

Help Your Team Navigate Through the Crisis

Regarding work, be as open and transparent with your team as you can. Work hand in glove with your HR department to make sure you are up to date on the policies of your company, and then consistently and clearly communicate them to your team. Do your due diligence by thoroughly keeping informed of the situation in your company, the guidelines of the CDC, and any local government ordinances or requests.

Empathy Addresses the Elephant in the Room

If you can foresee questions your team might have, and you can proactively address them—do! Opening the door to honest communication is critical. You can be sure many on your team are concerned about their job security. Reassure them of their position if it is truly safe. If the economic turbulence has hurt your company, share that honestly, too. I have a tried and true saying, “People don’t mind what you tell them upfront, but they resent what they think you should have told them and didn’t.”

Empathy in Action

There are a variety of things you can do to reduce the stress level of your employees. A few things you can do might include:

  • Having flexible work schedules
  • Assisting with financial aid
  • Offering confidential counseling
  • Providing equipment and technology for those working at home

Humility and Empathy Hold Hands

In all of this, your best success in working toward showing empathy to your team is to lead with humility. I have mentioned before my friend who has solid, long-term recovery from alcoholism. He said a one liner several years ago that has stuck with me, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself less.” Really, that’s the meat of empathy! It is about putting others first. When you move to a place of showing empathy in your leadership style, it will be second nature. It will make a world of difference to your team members, too.

How are you doing? How is your team doing during this crisis? I would love to chat with you to get your perspective and hear how you may be implementing a strategy for empathy in your leadership style, so please reach out. I’d enjoy chatting with you. Until next time, be well.


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