Empathy Is The Most Important Leadership Skill According To Research

Empathy has always been a critical skill for leaders, but it is taking on a new level of meaning and priority. Far from a soft approach, it can drive significant business results.

Reported by Tracy Brower, PhD for Forbes

The Effects of Stress

The reason empathy is so necessary is that people are experiencing multiple kinds of stress. Data suggests it is affected by the pandemic. The ways our lives and our work have been turned upside down.

A global study by Qualtrics found 42% of people have experienced a decline in mental health. Specifically, 67% of people are experiencing increases in stress, 57% have increased anxiety, and 54% are emotionally exhausted. Furthermore, 53% of people are sad, 50% are irritable, 28% are having trouble concentrating, and 20% are taking longer to finish tasks. 15% are having trouble thinking and 12% are challenged to juggle their responsibilities.

A study in Occupational Health Science found our sleep is compromised when we feel stressed at work. Research at the University of Illinois found when employees receive rude emails at work, they tend to experience negativity and spillover into their personal lives and particularly with their partners. In addition, a study at Carleton University found that when people experience incivility at work, they tend to feel less capable in their parenting.

Performance, Turnover and Customer Experience

A study published in the Academy of Management Journal found that when people are on the receiving end of rudeness at work, their performance suffers and they are less likely to help others. Additionally, a new study at Georgetown University found workplace incivility is rising and the effects are extensive. These include reduced performance and collaboration, deteriorating customer experiences, and increased turnover.

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