Become An Authentic Leader By Increasing Your Empathy

Jun 10, 2024 4 Min Read
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Cultivating Empathy for Effective Leadership in a Changing Workplace


In today's complex workplace, authentic leadership has emerged as a powerful factor of organisational success. With hybrid work becoming the norm, the rapid integration of technology in the workplace, and the arrival of new generations into the workforce, what it means to be an effective leader has undergone a profound transformation. Authentic leaders are self-aware and committed to bringing their best selves to work every day. But authenticity without empathy is egotism. Successful authentic leaders build cohesive teams founded on the principles of belonging and engagement. They foster an environment where each member is motivated to contribute to the team's mission. This human-centric approach to leadership emphasises relationships and human connection and collaboration.

Why Is Authentic Leadership Essential?

There are three primary factors influencing the ways leaders need to engage so they can fulfill their mission in support of their organisation:

1. Hybrid Work Model

The hybrid work model has redefined the traditional office environment, creating more complexity for leaders. Leaders must adapt by developing trust and maintaining connections without the benefit of consistent physical presence. In this context, empathy plays a critical role in understanding the needs and challenges faced by team members who are not physically co-located.

2. Tech Entering the Workforce

The vast and rapid technological advancements over the past few years have made it look like robots are taking over the workplace. Artificial Intelligence (AI), automation, big data, and machine learning are reshaping job descriptions and tasks. Leaders must balance the efficiency that technology brings with the human elements of creativity, innovation, and emotional intelligence. Empathy becomes a valuable asset in integrating technology in a way that supports human workers rather than alienating them.

3. New Generations of Workers

Generational shifts in the workforce bring new expectations, values, and working styles. Millennials and Generation Z, who are digital natives, prioritise meaningful work, personal growth, and work-life balance. They seek leaders who are transparent, ethical, and empathetic. To attract and retain talent from these generations, leaders must demonstrate a deep understanding of their perspectives and aspirations.

What Is Empathy?

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. It goes beyond sympathy and involves a genuine effort to step into another person's shoes, to see the world through their eyes, and to feel what they feel. Empathy in leadership means recognising the emotional states of team members and responding appropriately to their needs, concerns, and motivations.

Empathy is a skill that can be nurtured and developed. Increasing your empathy as a leader leads to more authentic connections with team members, thereby fostering an atmosphere of trust and cooperation.

Discover: Do You Know What Your People Are Really Feeling? The Cost of Empathy Gap

How To Increase Your Empathy

Becoming a more empathetic leader requires intention and practice. Here are some strategies to help you enhance your capacity for empathy:

1. Become Emotionally Self-Aware

Develop a keen awareness of your strengths, challenges, biases, and emotions and learn how they influence your behaviour. Self-awareness is the foundation of emotional intelligence and is crucial for developing empathy. It’s also the first step in the personal branding process. By understanding your emotional responses, you can better manage your interactions with others and enhance your presence.

2. Encourage Open Communications

Create a safe environment for open communication. Encourage team members to share their thoughts and feelings. When they do, acknowledge their input and show appreciation for their candor. This openness fosters mutual respect and understanding.

3. Listen Actively

Listen to your team members with the intent to understand, not just to respond. Pay attention to what’s being said, as well as the nonverbal cues that accompany the message. By focusing and truly listening, you validate the speaker's feelings and thoughts.

4. Deliberately Consider Others’ Perspectives

Make a conscious effort to see situations from the viewpoints of your colleagues and team members. Consider the personal and professional factors that might influence their behaviour and decisions. Understanding their perspectives will help you connect with them on a deeper level.

5. Cultivate Curiosity

Approach interactions with a sense of curiosity rather than judgment. Ask open-ended questions to learn more about your team members' experiences and backgrounds. This curiosity will help you build a broader understanding of the diverse perspectives within your team.

6. Develop Professionally

Participate in workshops or coaching sessions focused on empathy. These learning opportunities can provide you with the tools and strategies to enhance your empathetic abilities.

7. Reflect on Feedback

Encourage and seek feedback on your leadership style. Reflect on the feedback you receive, especially as it pertains to your level of empathy. Anonymous, candid feedback can also help you gain insights that might otherwise be missed. Use feedback as a basis for personal growth and to make necessary adjustments in your leadership approach.

Read more: Why Empathy Makes For Stronger Organisations

Increasing your empathy is not just about becoming a better leader; it's about becoming a more authentic, connected, and effective human being. By prioritising empathy in your leadership style, you create a work environment where team members feel understood, valued, and motivated. As a result, you'll witness not only the fulfillment of productivity and KPIs but also the growth of a resilient and inspired team that’s ready to succeed.

This article was originally published in Forbes

Edited by: Kiran Tuljaram

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William Arruda is the bestselling author of the definitive books on personal branding: Digital YOU, Career Distinction and Ditch. Dare. Do! And he’s the creative energy behind Reach Personal Branding and CareerBlast.TV – two groundbreaking organizations committed to expanding the visibility, availability, and value of personal branding across the globe. For more information on Personal Branding , please visit 


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