Leadership starts with Empathy

Leadership and empathy How many times in the middle of a conversation you thought: Gosh! I wished they could see my side, or feel the way I feel?

Or on the other spectrum have you ever felt that you needed to change the way you respond emotionally to others because your performance evaluation called for better communication and interpersonal skills

Either, or the solution believe it or not, is simple, maybe not that simple for everyone but let us put it that way it is attainable with a will to personally grow and to better build relationships with others that are different than we are, diverse from who we are, and feel or believe different values than we do.

The solution is actually called “Empathy” which means the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another; in simple English it means putting yourself or walking few steps in someone else shoes to understand where they are coming from or why they are acting/ thinking the way they do, before we let our unconscious bias and prejudice settle in and judge them based on our beliefs and values.

When I was younger and single I used to say I rather have someone in my life that gets me, is kind to me, and truly cares about me than loving me; I never realized that what I was saying is that I wanted someone that is empathetic about who I am and how I feel.

I am HUGE on empathy, I feel it is such a simple process, it is going back to basics of being a human being, it is simply recognizing emotions in others, granting them the right to be who they are, and it can be the solution to so many issues in our society like bullying, discrimination and stereotyping; it is sad that we do not embrace it more in our daily lives. Empathy is not a kumbaya song and is not a touchy feely emotion, it is an ability that originates from the heart and not the mind, it is a willingness to be kind and to care about others and not start with WIIIFM (what is in it for me)

Empathy is at the core of who we are as Human beings, though it has been an ignored emotion in our daily tumultuous world, the world is full of other people, and we can’t escape their influence on our life. It’s far better to accept this, and to decide to build relationships and understanding, rather than try to stand alone all of the time. The good news is that it is a learned ability or a re-learned ability where we can reform ourselves for it.

Empathy starts since a very early age, actually since we are born, so we see in one year old infants, they get anguish if they see their mother or their caretaker crying or hurt and they manifest their empathy by sucking their thumbs or crying themselves; later on when they see another child crying in kindergarten they try to offer their toy to soothe their pain.

To be empathic, you have to think beyond yourself and your own concerns. Once you see beyond your own world, you’ll realize that there’s so much to discover and appreciate!

Empathy is at the basic principles of Emotional Intelligence (which we will discuss in future posts), recent studies have shown that Emotional Intelligence is a requisite in great leadership, leaders that have emotional intelligence have better influencing skills and have followers believing in them.

In the workplace, managers are valued more for their people skills than their technical knowledge as per the Washington Business Journal, I have seen it many times, hardworking managers that have a lot of experience not moving up or barely advancing in their careers as they lack bedside manners or people skills. Emotional Intelligence and mainly empathy is getting in touch with one’s emotions and managing them when interacting with others for better managerial effectiveness.

This is a long post, I am posting it in three parts, so till next time!

Let your differences make a difference in the world

Connect with me on:
Sahar Andrade, MB.BCh
Diversity, Inclusion, and Leadership Consultant- Certified Social Media Strategist
Sahar Consulting, LLC




I help corporations and organizations create/ increase their employee engagement through Diversity, Inclusion, effective communication & Cross- Cultural leadership practices that result in everyone feeling appreciated, valued and respected for who they are; elevating morale and harmony hence increasing their productivity which translates to more revenues.

Let me help you Invest in your number ONE asset: Your employees


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