Empathy is one of those things that comes up a lot in conversations about leadership. Many people believe that having a high IQ is a sign of great leadership, however this isn't the case as many of the Fortune 500 leaders did not achieve top marks in their class. However, what is important in becoming a great leader is your ability to understand the emotions and feelings of others. In short, empathy.
What is it exactly?
Empathy can be defined as the ability to sense what is going on with other people by reading their gestures, expressions, voice as well as all their non-verbal cues. On a high level, empathy can be broken down into three different parts.
Cognitive empathy revolves around being able to understand how a person thinks as well as being able to see things from their point of view.
On the other hand, emotional empathy gives us a sense of what the other person is feeling and you can pick up on their emotions.
By having both cognitive and emotional empathy, it allows you to really connect with someone but there is one important factor that takes a leader from being good to great and that is empathic concern.
This is one the parts of empathy that isn't really talked about. Essentially, emphatic concern is when you really care about the people you are leading, and they feel like their opinions are considered and are inspired and motivated. In a way, it is kind of like the parental care that occurs in humans and animals.
At first glance, it may seem that emotional empathy and emphatic concern are the same, but the way to think of the two is that with emotional empathy you can pick up the emotions of other people, but don't do anything about it. Essentially, there is no caring aspect and in theory without empathic concern you could just use empathy to manipulate people.
For me, having empathic concern is key to becoming a great leader. It gives the other person a sense that you are caring for their interests as well. At the end of the day, we all remember the leaders who cared for us.
Until next time...keep learning!