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LEADERSHIP


LEADERSHIP EMPATHY IN


Stuart Duff discusses empathy and its role in effective leadership W


hether sharing the burden of a col- league’s concerns over


a cup of tea, or shedding a tear at a great sporting achieve- ment, empathy is something that most of us like to think we possess. Te extent to which we can empathise with others – or not – is likely to be tested on a daily basis. In a leadership position, with responsibility for the engage- ment and welfare of colleagues, it is likely to be tested on a minute-by-minute basis. Tere are a number of


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Sympathy is a strong feeling of care for someone in need. Empathy is the ability to understand why that person is in need in the first place


questions to address when considering the role of empathy in leadership. For example how is empathy, as a skill, distinct from other people


skills such as collaboration or care for others? What role does empathy play in effective leadership? And can empathy be learned and developed by leaders or is it a fixed commodity?


The skill of empathy


Empathy is the ability to sense, perceive or conceptualise how another person experiences the world. It’s often described as “walking in another person’s shoes”, or seeing things “through someone else’s eyes”. Although empathy is easily confused with sympathy, the two are not the same. Sympathy is a strong feeling of care for someone in need. Empathy,


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