Most people are drawn to great stories of legend. Legendary stories like Abraham Lincoln, Napolean, William Wallace, and so many others inspire people to believe in greater things and overcoming impossible odds. The focus is often on the headline name, and little attention is given to all those who were instrumental in making such great achievements possible.
This is true even in the business world. Legends such as Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, and Bill Gates inspire the lone innovative leaders and the ideas that made them the household names they are today. Again, the people who walked the journey with them are quickly forgotten and leaders looking to emulate their success can easily find themselves only learning from their innovative actions and not their leadership skills. This is why soft leadership skills are commonly forgotten, especially when leaders like Steve Jobs exhibit little to no empathetic skills.
Empathy is a skill leaders have that allows them to interact with others well in a one-on-one basis with a concern for the feelings and well-being of others (Kerr, 2016). Empathetic leaders do what they can to avoid hurting the feelings of others and put forth the effort to get the same results while showing value to their followers (Kerr, 2016). Leaders who are overly driven to achieve goals and organizational success at the expense of people and their feelings are considered to be low on the empathy scale, and seem to have little to no awareness of the thoughts and feelings of other people (Kerr, 2016).
It is this reason leaders should seek to develop coaching skills as a part of the skill toolbox. Coaching is instrumental in developing individual confidence, providing support, and inspiring individuals to action. Leaders who seek to develop their empathy through coaching skills will see even higher levels of success.
Kerr, B. (2016, August 6). For Leaders: Sixteen Ways of Developing Empathy – Leadership Development Institute [Blog]. Retrieved from http://www.leadershipdevelopmentinstitute.net/for-leaders-sixteen-ways-of-developing-empathy/