Coaching Creates Empathetic Leaders

Leaders are overbearing, unfeeling, demanding, and disconnected from the feelings of their followers.

This has been the perspective followers have had of leaders over the course of history, and this perspective has not only determined how followers interact with leaders but also how leaders develop and identify themselves. It is the “great man” theory of leadership that acts as an undercurrent to leadership development (Northouse, 2013). This, however, is counter to proper leadership and effective leadership models. Transformational, servant, and authentic leadership models are more follower-focused, introducing a higher degree of empathy into the leadership development makeup.

A leader who is empathetic is someone who interacts well with others individually, cooperate across hierarchical levels, and are mindful of the feelings of others (Kerr, 2016). Leaders who are low in empathy have a difficult understanding what others are feeling and thinking, and also struggle to give consideration to others’ feelings (Kerr, 2016).

Leaders who are intentional about adding coaching skills to their toolbox will discover they can create a whole new leadership reality for themselves and will act as a leadership example for followers. An empathetic leader combats the paranoia, anxiety, mistrust and competitiveness that is so rampant in modern organizations by using coaching skills to promote collaboration, interdependence, trust and alternative values that are healthier for followers to adopt (Kauffman, 2012). As leaders coach followers, exhibiting interest and empathy towards followers, they will exhibit more confidence, be more supportive of others, and will be inspired to take action for the good of the whole organization because of how an empathetic leader makes them feel about themselves (Wilson, 2004).

Is the implementation of coaching skills a difficult transition for established leaders?


Kaufman, L. (2012). Organizational Consulting Meets Relational Psychoanalysis: Commentary on Pa… Psychoanalytic Dialogues, (iss. 22), pp. 540–546.

Kerr, B. (2016, August 6). For Leaders: Sixteen Ways of Developing Empathy – Leadership Development Institute [Blog]. Retrieved from

Northouse, P. G. (2013). Leadership: theory and practice (6th ed). Thousand Oaks: SAGE.

Sperry, L. (1993). Working with executives: Consulting, counseling, and coaching. Individual Psychology: The Journal of Adlerian Theory, Research & Practice, 49(2), 257.

Vicere, A. A. (2004). Coaching and Mentoring : Best Advice for Leaders: Stop, Look and Listen. Leader Values. Retrieved from

Wilson, C. (2004). Coaching and coach training in the workplace. Industrial and Commercial Training, 36(3), 96–98.

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