Are you empathetic?

Lately, I have been doing quite a bit of work with clients around their emotional intelligence, the work pioneered by Daniel Goleman in the 1990s. There are four buckets: Self Awareness, Self Management, Social Awareness and Relationship Management. Under Social Awareness, the element that many managers find challenging to actively demonstrate with team members is empathy, the ability to tune into the other person’s thinking and feeling.

Yesterday, I coached a senior leader on how to coach her manager about their apparent lack of empathy and the negative impact it was having on the department. That is not as easy as it sounds. People that lack empathy are unaware of how they show up (low self-awareness) and don’t even realize that “walking in someone else’s shoes” matters. For leaders, however, having empathy is CRITICAL if you want to build a team and get the best from your team.

Here is some good news: you can learn to become more empathetic. How do you build empathy? Start by showing that you care by actually caring.


Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass… It’s about learning to dance in the rain.

Vivian Greene

Worth the Share

“Lead with love”, that sounds like truly strange advice in a professional context, but it is one of eight sound principles offered by Steve Farber in this article: Empathetic Leadership Begins with Love.


These principles are important for all of us, especially those who manage others. In the old days, we were often managed with an iron fist, but those days are long gone. Empathetic leadership builds trust, strong bonds and loyalty.


Here are his eight principles:

  1. Lead with love
  2. Open up team communication
  3. Be mindful of your own emotions and reactions
  4. Be an approachable and accessible leader
  5. Be transparent and fair by leading with empathy
  6. Socialize with employees
  7. Learn how to handle conflict in the workplace
  8. Establish empathy as company culture

Read on to learn more.

And Finally...

Empathy is a hot topic. Here is a TED talk from Jamil Zaki, a research psychologist from Stanford University who specializes on the subject of empathy. Entitled “We’re experiencing an empathy shortage but we can fix it together”, Jamil makes a compelling case about how we can make a difference. If you would like to be inspired and learn more, check it out. I especially loved his passion for and example from Star Trek.

To better tune into empathy (and the other 11 elements of emotional intelligence), I will be taking a real vacation to enjoy time off and recharge my battery. Soon our family of 14 will gather for some fun in the sun in southern CA. My next email will arrive in your inbox on July 6th. When will you be taking a break?

Have a reflective week,
Mary Jo
To learn more about my 1:1 executive, communication or business growth coaching, custom virtual workshops, the Career Transition program or just to connect, you can reach me at