When most people think of leadership, they might think of terms like decisive, visionary, or commanding. But what about empathy? It’s a different way of thinking about leadership, and it can be highly effective in creating positive change.
Positive mental health in the workspace is more important now than ever. For creatives, this is especially relevant, as we might find ourselves in leadership positions.
In this blog post, we’ll explore what empathetic leadership is and some of the benefits it can offer. We’ll also discuss how to develop empathetic leadership skills.
What is Empathetic Leadership?
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. It’s about putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and seeing things from their perspective. And it’s a critical skill for any leader who wants to be successful.
You might be thinking that countless dictators and tyrants have been persuasive without being the least bit empathetic, and you would be right. But as we’ve seen in recent years, the world is changing. People are becoming more aware of the importance of mental health, and they’re looking for leaders who can fully support them.
The rise of social media has also played a role in this shift. It’s given people a platform to share their stories and speak truth to power. As a result, people are more likely to support a leader who understands them.
Empathetic leadership is about more than just being nice to people. It’s about understanding their needs and working to meet them. It’s about building relationships and trust. And above all, it’s about making sure that everyone feels like they’re part of the team.
Why Is Empathetic Leadership Important?
Empathetic leadership is essential for many reasons. First, it can help you build better relationships with the people you work with. For example, a remote worker might feel isolated from the rest of the team.
An empathetic leader will take the time to check in with them and see how they’re doing. They’ll also make an effort to include them in team activities, even if it’s just over video chat.
Second, empathetic leadership can lead to increased creativity and productivity. When people feel like they’re being heard and understood, they’re more likely to be open to new ideas. They’re also more likely to feel motivated to do their best work.
And finally, empathetic leadership can help create a more positive work environment. When people feel supported, they’re less likely to experience stress and burnout.
How Does Empathetic Leadership Foster Creativity?
Empathy is a critical tool for understanding your team’s needs and motivations in the creative space. When you can see things from their perspective, it’s easier to find common ground and share a vision.
Empathy can also help you come up with better ideas. When you understand how someone feels, you’re more likely to be able to tap into their emotions and create something that resonates with them.
And finally, it can help build trust. If people feel like they can trust you, they’re more likely to follow your lead.
Steps To Becoming An Empathetic Leader To Yourself And Others
If you want to develop your empathetic leadership skills, you can do a few things.
Try to see things from other people’s perspectives.
It’s not easy, especially if you don’t agree with someone. But it’s important to remember that everyone has their own experiences and way of seeing the world.
If a situation arises that you disagree with, take a step back and take a second to think. What might be driving their actions? What do they hope to achieve?
For example, if you manage a team of graphic designers and one keeps missing deadlines, instead of getting angry, try to understand why they’re having difficulty. It could be that they’re taking on too much work or struggling with a personal issue. Either way, empathizing with their situation will help you find a solution that works for everyone.
Look out for signs of stress or burnout.
This is especially important if you manage a team of creatives. Creatives are known for being passionate and driven, but that can also lead to them burning out quickly. As a leader, it’s your job to make sure that everyone on your team is healthy and happy.
If you see signs that someone is struggling, reach out to them and see how you can help. It could be as simple as giving them a day off or something more complicated like finding a new project for them to work on.
They’ll appreciate that you’re there for them and willing to listen. You might also develop a solution to their problem, which can subsequently increase productivity.
Be open to feedback.
Empathetic leaders are always looking for ways to improve. If someone on your team has a suggestion, take the time to listen to them. They might have a perspective that you hadn’t considered before.
And if you’re ever in doubt, ask questions! Don’t be afraid to admit when you don’t know something. There’s no better way to understand how somebody feels than simply asking them.
Practice active listening
Active listening is a skill that takes time and practice to master. When talking to someone, really try to hear what they’re saying. Pay attention to body language and tone of voice.
As an exercise, try to repeat what they’ve said to you, showing that you’re listening. When you’re actively listening, it’s also essential to refrain from judgment. Just because someone sees things differently than you do, doesn’t mean they’re wrong.
If they are wrong, which can also happen, you can rebuttal your point of view calmly and rationally.
Empathetic leadership is a skill that takes time and practice to develop. But if you’re open to feedback and willing to see things from other people’s perspectives, you’ll be well on your way to becoming an empathetic leader.
As a result, you’ll likely see an increase in creativity, productivity, and overall happiness within your team. Try it out today by taking the time to really listen to someone on your team. You might be surprised at what you learn!