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Habits of Empathetic Leaders

Empathy is an important behavior in leaders. Being able to identify and understand another person’s feelings, motives and perspectives can help build trust and confidence within a team. Empathetic leaders usually have an easier time getting others on board with company goals and have the ability to diffuse tension during stressful situations—skills that are extremely useful in a corporate setting.

Some people are naturally empathetic, but others will need to work to improve this important leadership behavior. By adopting these three habits when interacting with others, you can become a better empathetic leader.

Put Away Phones and Other Distractions

To create a connection, you need to give people your full attention. That can be hard if you’re trying to multitask with your phone or laptop out. Get in the habit of putting away electronic devices when engaging with others and focusing all of your attention on the conversation at hand.

Don’t Interrupt

Part of building a rapport with people is giving them the opportunity to speak without interruption. If you’re guilty of often interjecting your opinions in a conversation, make a conscious effort to allow others to finish speaking before asking follow up questions or for clarification.

Be Aware of Your Body Language

Non-verbal communication is extremely communicative. Crossing your arms or tapping your foot while engaged in conversation can have a negative effect on the encounter, while nodding and smiling can encourage the other person to continue speaking. Make a habit of checking your body language during conversations and adjust as needed.   

Becoming an expert in active listening is another way to improve empathy. Learn more about how to be an active listener and why it’s important for those in leadership positions.


Want to improve on leadership behaviors? Assessments can provide an objective overview of your leadership competencies that can be the base of a personal development plan. If your organization currently doesn’t have an assessment and development plan in place, now is the best time to get started.

EGL is a trusted leadership assessment and development company with decades of experience. With our validated assessment tool, we’ve helped companies assess key leadership competencies within their organization and worked to develop and support their future leaders.

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