What makes a good leader?

Vivian Fong · 20 Oct 2022

What makes a good leader?

“People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care”

In the past 2 years, the workplace culture has shifted immensely. It brought upon uncertainty, disruption, stress, isolation and more. Workplaces responded by replacing traditional workplace traditions with more flexible policies which better supported their employees in the long run. In essence, they showed their employees that they cared.

So what type of leader makes their employees feel cared for? The answer is empathy, the ability to share the feelings and emotions of what another person is going through. Empathy is about taking a different perspective other than your own, and understanding the feelings and processes someone could be going through at any given time.

Empathetic leaders elevate organisations because their employees know they are well cared for. Leading with empathy means putting yourself in your employees’ shoes, taking a moment to understand what they have going on in their life. If employees feel understood, included, seen and heard, it is more likely that their talent and gifts will be reflected in the work they produce.

There are many qualities of empathetic leaders that should be taken note of.

Authenticity

Being authentic means leading from the core of who you are, regardless of what others will think or say. Authentic leaders are self aware, while also trying to learn more about who they are, what they believe in and how they can make daily improvements. They own up to their mistakes and do what they say.

Transparency

Authentic leaders believe in open dialogue and active listening. They believe in honesty, clarity and getting straight to the point.

Empowerment in others

Authentic leaders recognise that each person is their own individual person, coming in with a unique set of skills, experiences and motivations that can be harnessed and refined. They care about the employee’s work-life balance and career goals.

Emotional Intelligence

Authentic leaders are aware of how they feel, act and respond, which makes them able to direct any challenges or conflict to a more positive and calm state.

People often wonder whether empathy is a character trait that’s born or taught. Though not much is known through research, some of it can be attributed to our genetics. Research done in UK’s University of Cambridge says that a fraction of why we differ in empathy is due to genetic factors that help with understanding the behaviour of people. Additional research has said that low levels of the hormone oxytocin are responsible for low empathy, while other studies have shown that damage to certain brain areas cause people to have little to no empathy at all. Overall, empathy is an important trait to develop but the area of research is still relatively new. It is a character trait that is extremely useful to have, for any aspiring leader of the future.