I have personally been a big proponent of “Empathy based Leadership”. While building relationships (professional or personal), trust is the key pillar stone. Empathy based approach (should be genuine) could enable that and lead to amazing outcomes.

I have time and again witnessed several advantages of the empathy based leadership approach. Listing couple of them below –

  1. Closed a large engineering outsourcing deal – Empathy based approach helped us in identifying several unstated needs of the customer. Once, we aligned our solution comprehensively, it worked like magic. Not only did we sign a large annuity based deal for 7 years but also picked several other deals and the partnership extremely strategic for the entire ecosystem.
  2. Enthuse, energize employees to deliver the best. I was tasked to run a special assignment which cut across all the functions in the organization. We set a crack team with representatives from HR, Delivery, Recruiting, Sales, Finance, Pre-Sales etc. Majority of them did not report into me. With empathy based approach, each of us identified our own individual win themes, tied into the overall objective for this initiative. The team subsequently delivered fascinating results and the whole initiative was a grand success.

Hence, by leveraging empathy based leadership, any organization can generate (1) exponential growth in revenues and margins and (2) engaged ecosystem (employees, partners, customers etc.) to maximize impact across all areas right from innovation, sales, business development, marketing, customer service, CSATs, operations etc. The key is always finding the right balance in listening (coupled with intelligent questioning) to stakeholders, finding the best alternatives and full alignment on the go forward steps.

However, let me also list few potential pitfalls of “empathy based leadership”, which we need to be cautious about – (a) Poor Decisions- This typically happens when u decide purely on emotions, including instances when the rightful persons gets overlooked for an opportunity.  (b) Maintaining consistency – Finding empathy with larger groups of people sometimes, can be tricky. (c) Empathetic numbness- Too much of empathy at times, could lead to emotional distress. A study showed this to be one of the top reasons, triggering people take sabbaticals. (d) May hamper diversity – People subconsciously empathize more with colleagues who are similar to them. (e) May not result in concrete actions- Empathy may sometimes lack the discipline to follow though on actions.

If one consciously takes care of the above 5 parameters, empathy based leadership can deliver wonders for any organization. Also, on a personal level, this delivers fascinating and long lasting relationships.

At this juncture, I will like to draw your attention towards a comprehensive study done few years back, which revealed some peculiar anomalies – people with highest level of intelligence (IQ), outperform those with average IQs just 20% of the time, while people with average IQs outperformed people with high IQs, 70% of the time. Years of research and studies led scientist to discover that Emotional Intelligence (EQ) to be the biggest differentiation factor for these results.

How are empathy based leadership and emotional intelligence connected? Love to hear your thoughts.

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