In a new HBR article titled “Empathy is Still Lacking in the Leaders Who Need It the Most”, Ernest J. Wilson III found that there are five critical skills executives must have to succeed in today’s highly digitized and globalized world. They are: adaptability, cultural competence, 360-degree thinking, intellectual curiosity and empathy. Furthermore, according to Ernest Wilson’s research, of the five crucial skills, empathy was typically cited as the most important.
This might come as a surprise to some who think it is more appropriate to have employees who are seen as go-getters, quota-driven sales professionals or determined leaders, as opposed to empathetic or open leaders and teammates. Especially for those in a sales role where “you can’t take no for an answer”, empathy might not seem like a strength – but in fact in any job function, empathy is an incremental asset to success.
Why is empathy so critical? While one might think that the competitive landscape of today makes other skills more relevant than empathy, today’s competitiveness between businesses is actually a key factor in why empathy is so valuable, especially in leaders. In order to fully understand our customer’s needs and wants, empathy is a crucial ability, and a skill necessary to remain a key player in the market that you or your company compete in. Think you don’t need to be considerate of your customer’s needs because your product or service is indispensable? That’s what Blockbuster thought too.
Empathy is also an important asset for your employees to possess not only for working with clients and customers, but also each other. Collaboration and cohesiveness among peers is critical to success, read this blog to learn why. The teams that often work the best together are those who have a healthy relationship with one another. TRACOM’s definition of empathy is “the ability to consider someone else’s perspective and display openness to others’ viewpoints.” Without an empathetic workforce, maintaining highly functional teams is very difficult.
The good news is that empathy can be developed. While yes, some people are naturally more empathetic than others, nobody is doomed, and everyone can always improve. Just like your business, in order to remain competitive you have to be innovative and reinvent, the true is same for your employees. Keeping them fresh in the skills that allow them for optimal levels of success is imperative to the continued achievements of your company.