Without empathy and focus, you won’t be able to communicate effectively and relate well to others. People who lack empathy are sure to face interpersonal difficulties that lead to inferior performance, negative outcomes, and poor relationships with coworkers and customers.

In the work I do coaching, I encounter these issues all the time. As a competency skill, empathy is poorly understood, and usually by those who need it the most! Some hard-driving managers eschew the need to develop empathy because they assume it’s for “touchy-feely” types. Other tone-deaf leaders blindly walk around, relying solely on logic and wondering why others fail to see things their way.

Research by the Center for Creative Leadership reveals that executive “derailment” is primarily caused by deficits in emotional competence:

1. Difficulty in handling change

2. Inability to work well in teams

3. Poor interpersonal relations

The inability to understand matters from others’ points of view means some people lack the flexibility required for change. These individuals simply cannot work well with, or relate to others, which makes them workplace liabilities. I think we’ve all had experiences working alongside people with empathy deficits, no?

Empathy is the ability to “walk in someone else’s moccasins.” Psychologist Daniel Goleman,  author of Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships, defines it as the ability to read other people by sharing and identifying their emotional states.

According to Goleman, empathy is a foundational skill for all social competencies in the workplace:

1.      Understanding others: Sensing others’ feelings and perspectives; taking an active interest in their concerns

2.      Service orientation: Anticipating, recognizing and meeting customers’ needs

3.      Developing others: Sensing others’ developmental needs and bolstering their abilities

4.      Leveraging diversity: Cultivating opportunities among diverse people

5.      Political awareness: Reading the political and social currents in an organization

Successful leaders score high marks in these areas, which leads to goal completion—not to mention opportunities for promotion. When combined with focus, perseverance and concentration, empathy breeds achievement.

In fact, when leaders take the time to show they care, others will move mountains for them. You can’t influence others unless you care about them first.

What do you think about this? I’d love to hear from you.