Being an Empath in leadership can feel like a precarious place to be. Your priority is the well-being and development of the people around you but you also must justify that with the demands of the business. Common misconceptions of emotional people are they are weak, undetermined, and or can’t drive results, when in reality they are superpowers in the completely essential rest, ideation, and creation phases. Because of the way everyday corporate America is programmed to think about progress, they can be blind to the benefits of the soft skills their emotionally intelligent leaders bring to the table. Below, you’ll find several benefits of being an Empathetic Leader followed by the natural Pitfalls coupled with specific action steps you can take to remain an impactful leader.
Even if you don’t lead a team yet, but have dreams of starting something new, you might be held back by some of this negative self-talk. Your mind is recycling toxic conversations around how emotions are weakness or bad. Leaders don’t show emotions, so if you emote too much, that must mean you aren’t cut out for leadership. Even though this is always rattling around in your mind, the belief that you are meant for more shouts louder. When you know you can have an impact, you will find a way to walk forward, and leave the negativity behind. Due to the personality of an empath, you will need to adopt a lifelong practice of affirmations and building evidence for yourself. Here is a great place to start thinking of your skill set in a more positive light.
Benefits of being an Empath in Leadership
You desire fairness and balance. Prioritizing this means those around you can trust you, leading to better working relationships and higher achievement.
You can intuit stress and tension so you can address issues early. Being an empath, you can sense through body language and what is being said (or not said) anything amiss. You can get out in front of issues before they reach a boiling point.
Your intentions are sincere and ethical. Generally, you’re people-focused which means the mental and professional health of those around you are a top priority. Your direction and decisions come from a place of caring.
You foster community. Empaths have naturally magnetic personalities. Because curiosity is a common characteristic, you develop relationships and connections easily.
You are excellent at developing a team because you take the time to understand where opportunities are and address them specific to the team member.
You can motivate and inspire like no other. Because you can understand what your team or audience feels, you can gain trust and likability quickly.
You’re instinctive. This can give you an edge over the Fact and Figures types that can waste resources and time with never-ending planning. You follow the “messy action is better than no action” philosophy so you keep moving forward and are ahead of the others.
Listening too much can cause loss of focus on the goal. LEVEL-UP ACTION STEP: Busy putting out fires and addressing any little issue can inhibit progress. Learning a balance, how to address issues off-line and one-off will benefit you as you drive forward.
Your voice can get lost in the discussion. LEVEL-UP ACTION STEP: Ensure that while you are still allowing free and open discussion, you are continuing to lead the team in the direction of a win. Too many voices will slow momentum and confuse the team in their mission. Remember you are in your position for a reason, as the visionary and director, your voice must be the last heard.
Being instinctive also comes with risk. Because you spend less time planning and calculating, following your gut can sometimes lead to false moves. LEVEL-UP ACTION STEP: Learning to course-correct quickly when you realize a false move is vital to your success. Movement is more important than being right. Even the best plans can be flawed. Being adaptable and admitting you were wrong are far more useful skills than being right.
You can dwell. Being an emotional being, you feel deeply connected to other’s heartache. It can cause your mind to wander and you spend time and energy ruminating on situations you have no influence over. LEVEL-UP ACTION STEP: This is calling spiraling and it is important to be able to create some distance. The first thing to do is have some awareness of your triggers. Simply knowing what can make you dwell will help you avoid those situations. Understanding your place in the situation also helps keep perspective.
You can let others take your credit. Empaths are the ultimate team player and hate bragging on themselves. As long as the group succeeds, you’re happy. But this can skew the perception those around you, especially your supervisors, have of you. If you can’t find a way to balance accepting the credit and craving all the attention, then advancements and growth will be stunted. LEVEL-UP ACTION STEP: Build evidence and support for yourself. Some call this a “hype file.” You can create a folder in your Email where you put wins, team member accolades, client testimonies, media validation, and other tidbits. When you actively document your contribution, it will help your self-esteem remain at a healthy elevation.
You accept blame that isn’t yours. When the screws are put to you, you can lose your voice. You may even find you’ve forgotten the contributions you made or the progress you facilitated. LEVEL-UP ACTION STEP: It is important to keep perspective. Although accepting shortcomings is a part of growth, it shouldn’t be all that your supervisor is aware of. Before accepting all the negative, it is beneficial to both parties to acknowledge the positives. When you explain the pros of a situation, it can relieve some tension and allow space for the conversation to become constructive.
The tradition of a patriarchal society has defined what it is to be a leader for thousands of years. Leaders withhold emotion. Leaders are decisive and strong. Leaders push and demand more. Leaders want results over anything else. Over the millennia we’ve removed the human element from the top tiers of power, allowing only for the strong masculine energy to prosper. There are no allowances for rest, creativity, innovation; the more feminine energies to own a role in leadership. Think about it. When was the last time your headquarters or your boss provided space to celebrate wins, rest, recharge, and dabble in other disciplines? I’m guessing never. Empathy and emotional intelligence are not celebrated attributes, and certainly not on the top of the qualifications for Boss.
Being a leader as an emotional being is a huge advantage. You have the power to cultivate a truly engaged and genuinely happy team that feels they are seen, heard, and trusted. The sky is the limit when you’ve got people like that. As an Empath, be sure to keep yourself centered in some sort of ritual, whether journaling, reading, talking to a mentor, or connecting with nature. You can bring your team to new heights when you are facilitating not only their growth but your own.