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4 reasons why empathetic leadership creates better workplaces

Leading compassionately and effectively can be a challenge. However, by encouraging an inclusive culture of empathy, leaders can create a more inclusive environment that connects people to their work, inspires them to achieve their best, and helps them navigate their responsibilities.

Many organisations face challenges when it comes to employee well-being and reducing burnout. One way to address these challenges is by encouraging empathetic leadership, or leaders who are actively engaged in fostering a culture of open communication and collaboration among their teams.

1. Employees feel valued

Research has proven that empathy is not a soft skill but a response based on neurobiology. Instinctively an individual’s brain will mirror the emotional state of another person and allow them to unconsciously mimic the postures, mannerisms, and facial expressions of others to a greater degree than those who are not empathetic. The result is an understanding of how another person feels as if they had experienced it themselves.

When we value dissimilar people, we suddenly see hidden similarities. Racial, ethnic, religious and physical differences can inhibit empathy, and as demonstrated by research, the capacity to see a person’s situation from their point of view can overcome unintentional bias.

2. Triggers a culture of curiosity and improvement

The development of natural empathy comes with practice. Leaders should look for ways to make employees more efficient, reduce their workload, or help them achieve their goals and be willing to hear about their struggles and frustrations and find ways you can help out. Asking questions such as: “How did this impact you today?” or “What could have been done differently?” is a great place to start.

Research has shown that the expression “thirst for knowledge” has roots in neuroscience because obtaining information fires up the brain’s prefrontal cortex, which is associated with reward and value. When individuals are most curious, they can better remember more information—not just the answer to the question at hand.

3. Encourages a healthy workplace

Empathy skills are essential in a healthy, effective workplace. When burnout has reared its claws in so many professions, empathy skills can counter many nerve-wracking emotions because it creates a positive environment. It also increases productivity, morale and wellbeing.

Research shows that empathy can have real, tangible benefits. It improves our wellbeing and helps us to build stronger relationships with others. Empathy is a great indicator of leadership, with 76 percent of people who experienced empathy from their leaders also indicating they were more engaged and they flourished in the workplace.

4. It creates connections

Empathy makes people confident, more resilient, and more successful. It creates connections that drive results. Empathy contributes to positive relationships that drive results. It’s not a new skill, but it has reached a new level of importance in today’s world where diversity is growing and working together across cultures is an imperative for success. Science reinforces that empathy is the leadership competency that is needed to develop the future of work.

Creating a psychologically safe workplace is essential to building a strong and effective team. Empathetic leaders should strive to create an atmosphere where employees feel comfortable being themselves and expressing their opinions and feelings. This can be accomplished through many techniques, including demonstrating trust in employees, providing regular feedback and communication with the aim of addressing team members’ needs, and making decisions collaboratively.

At Acumen, we pride ourselves in offering training and development that gives managers practical tools to help solve real-life challenges. We offer an extensive menu of courses, workshops, and coaching programs, ranging from communication skills to executive leadership development. In most cases, we design the interventions specifically for each client, but we also offer a wide range of off-the-shelf programs for those who prefer this approach. For more information about our programs please contact Simon at

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