Empathetic Leadership


As Oprah Winfrey once said, “Leadership is about empathy. It is about having the ability to relate to and connect with people for the purpose of inspiring and empowering their lives.”

Leading with empathy focuses on identifying with others and understanding their point of view. Empathetic leaders have a deep and genuine interest in the people around them. They want to understand what makes them tick, what challenges they face, and what inspires them. They interact with others in a way that leaves their team feeling valued and respected for their personal and professional worth.


Practicing empathy can benefit your team, your organization, and your career in these key areas:

  1. TRUST. When you understand the feelings and needs of your team and show your team that you are there for them, you’ll create an environment of trust.
  2. TEAMWORK. Empathetic leadership tends to trickle down throughout your team. When you show more empathy and understanding to your team members, they tend to show more empathy and understanding with each other.
  3. UNDERSTANDING. By being open to the opinions, worldviews, and experiences of others, empathetic leaders tend to gain greater awareness, ask the right questions, and see multiple sides of an issue or problem. This enhanced understanding tends to allow for better problem solving and decision-making.
  4. ENGAGEMENT. When you have a deeper level of empathy with your team, you understand what drives them and why, and can use that information to engage, challenge, motivate, and inspire them.
  5. FULFILLMENT. Empathetic leaders create a safe work environment where team members’ feel their well-being and fulfillment is a top priority. A research study by Catalyst showed that employees with empathetic leaders demonstrated increased productivity, innovation, and engagement. Employees with empathetic leaders are less likely to leave a job and less likely to burn out.
  6. SUCCESS. A recent study showed that managers who practice empathetic leadership toward direct reports are viewed as better performers in their jobs. Because an empathetic leadership style is viewed positively by both management and employees, it tends to result in positive performance reviews. This can lead to greater opportunities for success and advancement.

As Barack Obama said, “Learning to stand in somebody else’s shoes, to see through their eyes, that’s how peace begins. And it’s up to you to make that happen. Empathy is a quality of character that can change the world.”

The path to leading with empathy starts with understanding yourself. Psychometric assessments can provide a deeper understanding of your levels of emotional intelligence and what areas may need further strengthening. Empathy skills can be developed and enhanced through coaching, training, and leadership development initiatives. If you need help understanding and developing your empathetic leadership skills, Catapult can help. Contact us today.


Forbes: “Empathy Is The Most Important Leadership Skill According To Research

McKinsey: “Tuning in, turning outward: Cultivating compassionate leadership in a crisis

Podcast: The Empathetic Leadership Podcast

Podcast: Empowering Employees Through Empathetic Leadership

Book: “Empathetic Leadership: 47 Practical Tips for Leading with Kindness, Courage, and Confidence in an Age of Disruption” by Michael Brisciana

Book: “The Five Graces of Life and Leadership” by Gary Burnison

Book: “The Empathy Effect: Seven Neuroscience-Based Keys for Transforming the Way We Live, Love, Work, and Connect Across Differences” by Helen Riess

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