Effective leaders need to develop a high level of Emotional Intelligence in order to assess the situation. Leader must understand his people in order to create harmony and respect by connecting them with a thread of empathy. But in today’s world, it has been keenly observed that due to intense competition and changing environment leaders already have pre-occupied minds. This creates hindrance in the listening power of the individuals causing lack of concern for others. What they really do is that they do not understand the actual feelings of others rather rush towards the solution.
Identify whether the element of empathy appears as a gift or a curse for a leader. Justify your answer
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Feeling what other feel
Empathy is the ability to not only detect what others feel but also to experience that emotion yourself.
This can be both a bane and a boon. If you can read another person's emotions then you can both avoid making a faux pas and also utilize their state to move them in another direction. When people are in emotional states their ability to decide is often significantly impaired. Thus you cannot expect aroused people to make rational choices at this time.
Empathy is a bane if you end up experiencing all the bad feelings of everyone around you. This is one of the problems that therapists and other carers have to handle.
It's not sympathy
Empathy and sympathy are very close and are sometimes used as synonyms. The easiest way to separate them is to remember that empathy is about feelings whilst sympathy is about actions. Thus you may empathize with another person and then act on this by telling them how sorry or happy you feel for them.
Empathetic people are often very sympathetic - they can hardly stop themselves as they really do feel for the other person.
A person who is sympathetic but not empathetic may appear a little shallow, as they are less likely to show an emotional connection. 'Terribly sorry and all that, old chap' they might say, in a friendly but relatively cold voice.
It's definitely not psychopathy
A defining element of a psychopath is that they do not and probably cannot empathize with other people. They are often good at imitating this, but in doing so they are using it in a cold and manipulative way.
Having said this psychopaths have been described as having 'cold empathy' whereby they do not experience what others are feeling but nevertheless are able to detect emotions through reading non-verbal signs. In this way they can appear normal whilst simultaneously caring nothing for others.
This lack of empathy is one thing that makes a psychopath so dangerous. If we cannot empathize with others then we are unlikely to care about them. Psychopaths can this easily objectify other people, treating them like 'things' and even killing them without any remorse.
It has many benefits
The value of empathy comes not from understanding the other person's feelings, but what you do as a result of this.
Empathy connects people together
When you empathize with me, my sense of identity is connected to yours. As a result, I feel greater in some way and less alone. I may well, as a result, also start to empathize more with you.
In a therapeutic situation, having someone else really understand how you feel can be a blessed relief, as people with emotional problems often feel very much alone in their different-ness from other people. The non-judgmental quality can also be very welcome.
Therapeutically, it can be a very healing experience for someone to empathize with you. When someone effectively says 'I care for you', it also says 'I can do that, I can care for myself.'
Empathy builds trust
Empathy displayed can be surprising and confusing. When not expected, it can initially cause suspicion, but when sustained it is difficult not to appreciate the concern. Empathy thus quickly leads to trust.
Empathy closes the loop
Consider what would happens if you had no idea what the other person felt about your communications to them. You might say something, they hated it, and you continued as if they understood and agreed. Not much persuasion happening there!
The more you can empathize, the more you can get immediate feedback on what they are experiencing of your communications with them. And as a consequence, you can change what you are saying and doing to get them to feel what you want them to feel.
So how do you do it? How do you find out what other people are feeling? All you have to go on are what they say, how they say it and what they do, which can also be described as 'words, music and dance'.
If you want to move someone, detecting their emotional state is the first step. If you can feel that state then that detection is even more accurate. When you can sense their emotion, you can then use this to move them in the direction you want them to take.
The trick in spotting feelings is to pay close attention to changes in the other person in response to external events. If you say 'How are you?' and the corners of their mouth turn down and their voice tone goes flat, then you might detect that all is not well.
The better you are at spotting small changes, the greater your potential ability at empathizing. Watch for small changes on the face. Watch for lower-body movements when the upper-body is under conscious control. Listen for tension in the voice and emphasis on specific words. Listen for emotional words.
To avoid getting swamped by their emotions learn to dip in and out of the association that makes you feel what they do. Go in, test the temperature and then get out to a place where you can think more rationally.
Unless you are really sure, it can be a good idea to reflect back to the other person what you are sensing of their feelings, to check that you have got it right. After all, the only person who can confirm empathy is the person whose emotions are being sensed.
Reflecting back itself has an effect, typically leading the other person to appreciate that you really care about them and hence increasing their trust in you.
Empathy is far more effective when it is offered, as opposed to when people ask for empathy (in which case a negotiation exchange dynamic is set up).
By the way, The usual caveat applies here - taking advantage of someone who is upset breaks many social rules and negative manipulation is likely to lead to betrayal effects.
What role does empathy play in leadership? Why does it matter?
“When we understand our team we have a better idea of the challenges ahead of us.” – @morrismichellek
Let’s be honest, when it comes to the keys for successful leadership, empathy is rarely included in such a list. However, instilling a sense of empathy in how you lead those under your care offers a number of advantages:
Empathy allows us to feel safe with our failures because we won’t simply be blamed for them.
It encourages leaders to understand the root cause behind poor performance.
Being empathetic allows leaders to help struggling employees improve and excel.
Empathy allows leaders to build and develop relationships with those they lead.
7. So why aren’t we being more empathetic at work?
“Empathy takes time, focus, effort. Some ppl focus more on meeting deadlines than on the people who will carry you there.” – @elbiddulph
If it’s part of our make-up to be empathetic and that there are tangible benefits to fostering a sense of empathy within your organization, the question that naturally comes up is why then aren’t leaders taking the lead in making empathy a fixture in today’s business world. The most obvious reason (or excuse) is that the expression or recognition of any type of emotion in the workplace is still regarded as being a form of weakness (the rationale behind the well-worn phrase “it’s nothing personal; it’s just business”)
Of course, as is the case whenever there’s an examination of human interactions, the behaviours are rarely the result of one factor. Instead, it’s often due to a number of causes, which in this case includes:
Demonstrating empathy is hard; it’s takes time and effort to demonstrate awareness & understanding.
It’s not always easy to understand why an employee thinks or feels the way they do about a situation.
It means putting others ahead of yourself which can be a challenge in today’s competitive workplace.
Many organizations are focused on achieving goals no matter what the cost to employees.
In trying to address the apparent lack of empathy in today’s workplace, it’s important that we recognize that, much like an organization’s culture, it doesn’t come down to one element, but a series of inter-related behaviours and biases which serve to reinforce how leaders and their team perceive the value of empathy in business.
8. How can leaders encourage a culture of empathy?
“Create an environment were ppl feel it is safe to express their true opinion.” – @DrGregWaddell
One of the responsibilities of leadership is defining the long-term vision you have for the organization and establishing some short-term goals for your employees to attain in order to transform your plans into reality.
However, what distinguishes average to mediocre leaders from those who excel at leading others is how the latter group understands that their focus shouldn’t be simply directed to whether goals are achieved or not. Rather, their focus is also on fulfilling the collective purpose of creating something meaningful.
To accomplish this, leaders need to understand the inner purpose that drives each of their employees and aligning that with their organization’s goals. This requires that leaders be more open about their ideas and thinking and asking their employees about their thoughts on it. By spending more time learning about the needs of their employees, leaders can set the tone and approach taken by their employees to achieve their organization’s goals.
9. How can we use empathy to become a better leader?
“Empathy as a state of mind breeds more listening -> understanding -> leadership!” –
By now it should be pretty clear that empathy plays a critical role in one’s ability to be a successful leader. But for those who might need more convincing, here are some of the ways empathy can help you to become a better leader for your team:
You gain a greater awareness of the needs of your employees.
Empathy allows you to create an environment of open communication and more effective feedback.
It allows us to understand and explore problems employees face and how to help them resolve them.
Being empathetic with your employees helps to validate what they’re going through.
10. If leaders could do one thing to create a more empathetic workplace, what would it be?
“Remember that people are not machines. They feel as well as produce.” –
“Sawubona” is a Zulu greeting which basically means “we see you”. Now, this is not some variation of the royal usage of “we” in place of “I”. Rather, it’s their way of recognizing that how they understand what they see around them is a reflection of their perception that is derived not only from their own experiences, but from the stories and ideas passed down to them through their family and community.
Similarly, leaders need to remember that how we feel colours our perception of what we see going on around us and consequently, it’s important to understand those feelings so that we can respond and manage them accordingly.
It’s also important that we remind ourselves that the story we tell in our minds is different from the story playing in the minds of others. It’s only through listening intently to others that we can begin to understand these differences.
As one of the pillars to developing empathy is being attentive to what others are saying, I’d like to end this piece with these two quotes which I think do an excellent job of capturing the very essence of the role empathy plays in leadership:
If you wish to know the mind of a man, listen to his words. – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care. – Theodore Roosevelt
To be able to effectively deal with people he/she is supposed to lead, a leader has to understand them and understand where they are coming from. He/she has to be able to relate to their problems and their concerns. Otherwise, the leader will make decisions based solely on his/her own perspective in life, which may be very different that those he/she is leading.
Politicians who want to be elected for being a good leader TRY to appear to be empathetic, but once they are elected that empathy seems to slip away, in most cases. I know they are busy, and have people from all walks of life pulling them every way there is. It can't be easy, but they need to at least listen to those who are their constituents, find the best solution, and be able to explain to the people WHY it's the best solution for the most people
Empathy makes better leaders
According to the Center for Creative Leadership, the nature of leadership is shifting, placing a greater emphasis on building and maintaining relationships. They claim that “leaders today need to be more person-focused and be able to work with those not just in the next cubicle, but those in other buildings and other countries.”
A leader who develops empathy has several advantages:
In a Harvard Business Review article entitled “What Makes a Leader?“, Goleman states:
Leaders with empathy do more than sympathize with people around them: they use their knowledge to improve their companies in subtle, but important ways, by thoughtfully considering employees’ feelings – along with other factors – in the process of making intelligent decisions.
A study reported in the Harvard Business Review shows that one of the skills most serial entrepreneurs lack is empathy. Empathy is a powerful antenna for understanding the experiences of those around us. It helps good leaders become great leaders and is a key to business success. As management guru Peter Drucker said, “The purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer.” Empathy is an important component of keeping a customer.
In Wired To Care: How Companies Prosper When They Create Widespread Empathy, Dave Patnaik illustrates how successful organizations practice empathy for the consumer in the way they do business. One such company is Herman Miller, which uses empathy to understand the customer and build better products. A company statement explains, “We gain empathy by engaging with nurses and other caregivers in multiple ways. Facility tours, focus groups, gaming sessions and job shadowing help us develop insight into the work of caregivers, to really understand what they do, what their workday is like.” The company then shares those experiences with product development teams through reports, hallway conversations and workshops.
Some people are gifted with a high empathy level while others struggle with the notion. If you or your business struggle, here are seven ways you can practice empathy on an organizational level:
1. Use outsight. Allot five to 10 minutes in your regularly scheduled meetings for everyone to quickly share what they have heard in the field about your product or service. It’s a good way to keep your ear to the ground to find out about customer issues that may otherwise not surface. Don’t wait until you hear a complaint to respond. Use all the knowledge you gain to engage with customers and let them know you care. Empathy engenders loyalty.
2. Build a culture of empathy. When empathy is not practiced within the organization—with all constituents—it’s impossible to expect it to happen with customers. Whitney Hess, a user experience consultant, talks about how designers, for example, focus their efforts on developing organizational empathy for the end-user, but neglect to do the same on their own home turf. As she put it, “They say you can’t truly love another before you learn to love yourself. Organizations are no different. If we don’t love and respect and admire the people we work with every day, we can’t collectively give our customers the love they deserve.” Empathy is an inside-out job.
3. Know who you want to do business with. Entrepreneurs often start businesses without being fully aware of who they want to cater to. A company might start with a B2C model, only to find out in midstream that a B2B model is where they would have focused if they had done a proper analysis. Seth Godin writes, “… too often, we pick the product or service first, deciding that it’s perfect and then rushing to market, sure that the audience will sort itself out. Too often, though, we end up with nothing.” Whether you’re a real estate broker, a bowling alley investor, a yoga instructor or app developer, Godin adds, “in every case, first figure out who you’d like to do business with, then go make something just for them,” Are you targeting the right people? Do you fully understand their needs? If not, what can you do to change this?
4. Build empathy in your post-purchase policies. While everyone should be trained to use an empathetic approach at every touch point with the client, this is particularly important in your post-purchase policies. Make it easy for people to seek redress, if needed. How a customer is treated when things go wrong has an impact on whether or not the person continues to be your customer. For example, watch commission-based frontline employees who may treat a customer seeking a refund with less warmth than they did during the purchase. In Nice Companies Finish First: Why Cutthroat Management Is Over And Collaboration Is In, Peter Shankman shows how a focus on empathic service builds revenue. A customer-centric leader has a framework in place to quickly meet customer demands, puts a premium on what customers say and do, and changes what’s not working without looking back.
5. Write intelligible user manuals. We have all been through the annoyance and frustration of having to follow instruction booklets that tested our patience. Some are so badly written, in a rush to get the product out the door, that you would never know from the writing that the person actually followed the same instructions themselves. Putting yourself in the shoes of the manual reader is one small but impactful way to show empathy.
6. Take an empathy test. People generally know whether or not they have empathy. However, we often misjudge the extent of our empathy. If you need help to raise your self-awareness in this critical area, consider taking this free online Empathy Quotient test. To get feedback from your constituents on your empathy level, consider taking an emotional intelligence test.
7. Empathy as a way of life. If you have children, there is probably no greater gift you can give them than to help them understand and practice empathy early on. Take an inspiration from this the video below showcasing how Japanese fourth grade students are taught empathy. Closer to home, we have Roots of Empathy, an organization that has been successful in developing empathy in children and decreasing aggression and bullying.
Tooba hai tariq bhia aap nai to notes ka hamalia khara kr diya
In order to appreciate the role empathy plays in leadership, we first need to have a clear understanding of what empathy means. Most times, we tend to confuse empathy with sympathy; that to be empathetic means agreeing or relating to the feelings another person has regarding a given situation or individual.
However, what empathy really means is being able to understand the needs of others. It means that you’re aware of their feelings and how it impacts their perception. It doesn’t mean you have to agree with how they see things; rather, being empathetic means that you’re willing and able to appreciate what the other person is going through.So it is not curse for a leader to be Empathetic rather it is blessing og Allah.
good shabbir i also posted it but i wrote it as a curse :)
curse ho he nai sakta dear.... because agar curse hota to kice ek lec mai to sir is ka negative impac datay......
well Rubina pakistan mein jahan log baat ko follow nai krtay aur sir dhaa daitay hai fazool behas mein wahan pai empathy curse hi hai jo leader ko zalil krwa daitee hai
bcoz lato kai boot bato sai nai mantey