One Crucial Leadership Trait That Top CEOs Have

People management is arguably the toughest tasks of the 21st century world. With so many work choices available, employee churn rate is higher than ever before.

So, how then can we ensure that we retain our staff and inspire them to push themselves to perform their best? What is the one crucial leadership trait that allows top CEOs of the world like Sundar Pichai, Elon Musk and Salil Parekh to retain the workforce behind their giant empire?

Well. It is one (simple, yet not so simple) skill – Empathy.

The ability to understand and share the feelings of another. This seemingly simple skill is indeed very difficult, and very few have mastered the same.

Empathy is one crucial leadership trait that top CEOs have.

“Empathy is the imaginative act of stepping into the shoes of another person and viewing the world from their perspective.” – Roman Krznaric

Before we discuss in detail why empathy is important, let’s first understand what it really means to be an empathetic leader?

Who are Empathetic leaders?

Empathetic leaders are self-aware, other-aware and us-aware. They observe themselves and seek to understand the feelings, perspectives and lives of others. They empathize into the future and beyond the human species.

How does Empathy allow leaders to reduce master staff management?

The need to be heard and belong is an innate human need. We feel the need to be valued by others, especially in a group setting.

Empathetic leaders are aware of the feelings of others, and our hence able to make sure the work dynamics is such that all feel heard and respected. An apathetic work dynamic tears down, discourages and pushes away employees who may just need a slight push. Whereas, an empathetic leader is able to create an environment where people feel ownership of their work, respected for their opinions and appreciated for their efforts.

The little (yet important) considerations and attention that an empathetic leader gives to his employees has a building effect.

In fact, it is biology. Small acts of kindness release the feel good hormone is the recipient. Therefore, consistently paying attention to the well-being of others, has a powerful reciprocal effect, thus boosting the loyalty and efficiency of employees.

Furthermore, as there is a growing demand for flat organisational hierarchy, empathy is crucial skill for CEOs to master in order for them to be a charismatic leader (and not an authoritarian one).

Apart from employee retention, does empathy have any other use?

Well. Many.

1 – An empathetic leader can truly understand one’s pain point, and hence provide an apt solution

Businesses try to find solutions to a paint point of customers. That is how money is made. When an organization solves a customer’s “pain,” the value addition generates capital gains.

An empathetic leader will be able to truly understand the needs, desires and pain points of the customers, and hence be well equipped to curate solutions that truly add value.

2 – An empathetic leader is great at negotiations.

Empathetic leaders know their target’s desires and risks they are or aren’t willing to take. They are able to recognize the other’s emotions and perspectives, and therefore can conduct the negotiation in a way that is beneficial to both parties (or at least make it seem so).

3 – An empathetic leader is a conscious global citizen

Since an empathetic leader’s efforts and care extends beyond their immediate organisation, they naturally tend to be environmentally conscious and aware of their impact on the society. This automatically enables them to win the hearts of all.

If this one single skill is so powerful, why do so few people seem to master it?

  1. It takes time.
  2. It may seem unimportant in the short-run as its rewards are only reaped in the long-run.
  3. It takes patience.
  4. It takes a true desire to master the skill of Empathy.

Therefore, if you are willing to exert the effort and time to master Empathy, you will already be ahead of several other leaders. Empathy is a 21st-century skill – start early and master it.

Guest Post by: Igor Smirnov. Igor is a Chess Grandmaster and founder of KeytoVictory

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