The Most Important Trait of a Business Leader?
The best leaders have a strong sense of empathy. Being empathetic — being able to understand another person’s experience, perspective and feelings — allows business leaders to generate respect because of meaningful sense of caring. “Fake caring” is just going through the motions. Asking people questions and not listening to the answers is insulting … and employees can sense that in a heartbeat.
In a recent interview Mark Edmunds, a Senior Partner and Vice Chairman of Deloitte, did with Forbes magazine, he suggested that empathy, along with respect and pure intent, are the keys to being a successful leader as well as successful person. “We want them to walk in the shoes of others to help them think about how to frame things differently.”
Psychiatrist Prudy Gourguechon notes that empathy can be learned. “The capacity for empathy is an innate human trait, and like all of these, there is a spectrum of strength and weakness. Some people are more naturally gifted at quickly sensing other peoples’ experience. In fact, some of my clients have to be taught to put up an “empathic wall”—too much awareness of other peoples’ feelings cripples their ability to make decisions that lead to disappointment or bad feelings. .”
Business leaders who have the ability to be empathetic, to treat their employees with respect, and to do both with a sense of honest and integrity are on the path to success.