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At the Source of Empathy

I once wrote an OP-ED addressing abysmal leadership behaviors that almost daily were being reported in the news. The article's title was: “It's the Values, Stupid.” Today, reading blogs, articles, and posts that talk about empathy, and the need for leaders to embrace and strengthen their show of empathy, I’m tempted to re-post the article. The way I see it, empathy isn’t a tactic to use or an action to be managed; rather, it's about what we believe to be right, decent, and true – empathy is a behavior that spawns from within.

Sincere empathy comes from the expression of inner values. When our values include Respect, Compassion, or Caring, empathetic behavior is a natural manifestation. Values govern behavior; our aggregate behaviors result in a specific culture – good or bad – and that culture will deliver predictable results. A healthy team culture requires the sincere expression of empathy and is essential for creating the trust necessary to deliver consistently high corporate performance.

In “Canoeing the Mountains,” Tod Bolsinger wrote: Healthy culture is aligned, cohesive and clear. A healthy culture is one where there is minimal politics and confusion, high degrees of morale and productivity, and very low turnover among good employees. In a healthy organizational culture, people feel free to have candid conversations, to suggest new strategies or ideas, and to take risks and experiment.”


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