• Catherine Hansen

How empathetic are you?

Last week I wrote about the importance of leaders practicing reflection for personal and professional development. This includes celebrating progress, analyzing what went well and why, and identifying personal and professional areas for improvement.


In my own life, I am inspired by the ways I see the people around me lead:

  • my children interact with the people and world around them with genuine care and compassion

  • my husband consistently invests in connection and relationships in all aspects of his "work"

  • the EWC leadership team reminds me, regularly, to slow down and listen inward

The pandemic ushered in burnout and overwhelm among professionals, but it also started a larger conversation around empathy in the workplace and specifically, leading with empathy. Watch the 2 minute video below for four ways to embrace empathy (or jump to the bottom of this newsletter for a summary!).


According to research, "empathy is no longer a nice to have for leaders. It's a strategic imperative. Companies whose leaders embrace empathy have a decided edge including boosted productivity, innovation, engagement, and decreased burnout" (Forbes). Here are four ways leaders can intentionally practice empathy:

  1. Put others first Check in with your team and "make it a priority to get to know them as people, not just employees."

  2. Create a safe space for sharing People won't share their ideas or concerns if they feel they're being judged, so it's up to leaders to create a safe container for their team.

  3. Let others know how you feel - they can't read your mind Never assume your team knows what's in your head and always practice clear communication ("clear is kind" as Brené Brown reminds us)

  4. Listen more and talk less "While listening to someone, resist the urge to multi-task or interrupt. Instead, give others your full and undivided attention so that you can truly listen to what matters most to them."

Although Forbes presents empathy as a strategic imperative for workplace leaders, it should be just as important to practice in our personal lives. Don't just use these tips at work with your team, but with your family, friends and community. Make it a priority to get to know your neighbors or create a judgement free zone so your kids can talk honestly and openly with you. This summer has definitely been a time for open dialogue with our teens and I'm grateful for those spontaneous moments as we prep a meal or wash the dishes together. All in all - empathy is a growth edge we can all be leaning into that'll improve our relationships with everyone around us (and, as an added bonus, we may love ourselves more too).