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When you ask people what they think is the most important quality or skill to be a successful leader, you’ll likely hear answers, such as “technical competence”, “problem-solving skills”, and “people person” as the more common responses. According to a research study, however, empathy may be the key to building a successful leadership role. Here’s why.

Navigate the Stressful Workplace Environment

The study argues that empathy is incredibly important in workplace settings because people are experiencing different types of stress on a daily basis while at work. A report released by Qualtrics found that 57% of the people interviewed for the study were experiencing increased anxiety, 54% were emotionally tired, and 53% were experiencing depression. Being empathetic towards your employees allows you to address the root causes of these sources of stress.

Anticipate Your Employees’ Needs

Being empathetic allows you to anticipate what others need. If your employees do not have the right work environment or tools, they cannot perform at an optimal level. An empathetic leader can tap into the general feelings of the workplace and make necessary modifications to steer their employees’ perception in a positive direction. By providing your employees with the support they need, they are able to tackle challenges and hit their milestones at work.

Create Strong Lines of Communication

Showing your employees that you are empathetic towards their needs and opinions encourages them to confide in you. People are more inclined to talk to you when they feel safe doing so. If you brush off their concerns or fail to listen to their pleas, they are unlikely to openly communicate with you. This lack of communication prevents important information from being relayed and, thus, creates operational inefficiencies at work.

Forges Trust Within Your Workforce

Empathy inspires trust within the workforce. Trust leads to empowerment, clear lines of communication, and an overall cohesive unit working towards the same goal. This improves the level of collaboration and productivity within the team and reduces business costs since it maximizes employee satisfaction and retention rate.

You can gain a competitive edge as an executive by honing your empathy. To do so requires active listening, a non-judgmental mindset, and a high level of emotional intelligence.