Why is empathy lacking in so many organizations?
Is it seen as a weakness in leaders to be empathetic?
I’ve often wondered that when I’ve gotten hesitation and, sometimes, actual resistance as I’ve coached leaders over the course of my career in the importance of expressing empathy in their leadership roles. Some of the push back has come from a misperception that it’s a “soft skill” that isn’t important. In other cases, I think, it’s simply a situation of discomfort for the individual. Perhaps it’s a sense that showing empathy with direct reports is akin to showing one’s vulnerability which is extremely uncomfortable for many leaders.
What is empathy?
At its core, it’s the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. It’s about feeling with someone, in a genuine, caring way. To understand the difference between empathy and sympathy, let’s look to Brene Brown who has studied empathy for years. Brene Brown is a well-known research professor and best-selling author who has spent her career studying courage, vulnerability, shame and empathy.
Laurie is an experienced Human Resources executive who is passionate about organizational culture, creating great workplaces and employee engagement.