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Have you ever noticed that when discussing how to improve business operations or possible solutions to today’s economic problems, the emotional impact on employees is rarely considered? In a way, it’s not too surprising, considering that many of us have had managers who taught us not to take things personally at work, considering that “it’s just business.” However, the findings of a recent report should prompt many of these leaders to reconsider the role of human emotions in how they manage their teams.

Empathy has always been a critical skill for leaders, but it is taking on a new level of importance and priority. Not a soft approach, can not lead to significant business results.

You’ve always known that showing compassion has a positive effect on people, but new research shows its importance for everything from innovation to retention. Good leadership requires the perfect mix of all kinds of skills to create the conditions for engagement, happiness, and productivity, and compassion tops the list of what leaders need to do right.

Compassion promotes positive outcomes

But when we’re going through tough times, struggling with emotional burnout, or struggling to find happiness at work, compassion can be a powerful antidote and promote positive experiences for individuals and groups. A new study of 889 employees by Catalyst found that empathy has several significant constructive effects:

Innovations. When people reported that their leaders showed empathy, they were more likely to say they were capable of innovation — 61% of employees compared to just 13% of employees with less empathetic leaders.

Involvement. 76% of people who felt compassion from their leaders reported being engaged, compared to only 32% who felt less compassion.

Maintenance. 57% of white women and 62% of women of color said they would be less likely to consider leaving their companies if they felt their circumstances were respected and valued by their companies. However, when they didn’t feel that level of value or respect for their life circumstances, only 14% and 30% of white women and women of color, respectively, said they were unlikely to consider quitting.

Inclusivity. 50% of those with responsive leaders reported that their workplace was inclusive, compared to only 17% of those with less responsive leadership.

Working life. When people felt their leaders showed more compassion, 86% reported that they were able to navigate the demands of their work and life, successfully balancing personal, family, and work responsibilities. This compared to 60% of those who felt less compassion.

Whatever your natural capacity for empathy, your ability to empathize and use it waxes and wanes with your own physical and mental state. When you’re sick or tired, it’s hard to feel sorry for anyone but yourself. If you feel a burst of creative enthusiasm, thinking about the views of others is destructive. And that’s okay as long as it doesn’t last too long and you know to check on the people around you.


according to Forbes publications