First Person: Engaging the Workforce with Empathetic Leadership
Monday, May 31, 2021
AD: What are the most important soft skills needed for leadership today?
Kerber: There are many important soft skills, but the three I have found most important are communication, giving effective feedback, and empathy. Good communication skills are essential for conveying information, decisions, and your thought processes to your team. Giving effective feedback is also essential, but often fundamentally uncomfortable for many people, which makes them reluctant to move into leadership roles. Empathy is hugely important for effective leadership today, especially during the pandemic. I have seen plenty of successful and not-so-successful leaders who fell across the spectrum, ranging from highly empathetic to borderline android, and I know which kind I want to be.
AD: What does it mean to be an empathetic leader? What are the qualities of empathetic leadership?
Kerber: Many people think of empathy as understanding what another person is going through, which is part of it. But true empathy means not just knowing it intellectually but also practicing it and understanding what the other people are experiencing at an emotional level. Only then can you fully contextualize their experience, and what you as a leader can or should do to support them.