Is Empathy the Best Leadership Quality?

A project’s success is based on teamwork, and a team’s bonding depends on a leader that has empathy for the members. Simon Sinek had a conversation with Lt. Gen. George Flynn, a Marine Corps official. He said how the junior-most officers ate first and their seniors and leaders after them. Leadership for the Marines is about giving more importance to others’ problems. In this article at SUCCESS, Shelley Levitt shares Sinek’s views on how empathy is the best leadership quality.

Empathy Matters

Leadership is always associated with authority, control, and facilities. However, in his book “Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t,” Sinek draws inspiration from the Marines’ philosophy about altruistic leadership. If you are a true leader, you will enable others to excel. The author, whose TED talk has over 30 million views, believes “We all have the responsibility to become the leaders we wish we had.”

It’s All Biological

Humans produce four neurochemicals—endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin. When these are released, you feel happy, proud, fulfilled, or complete. Endorphins help overcome pain to focus on goals and the resultant joy, like reaching the finish line at the end of a race. Dopamine is an incentive you receive when you complete a task. The bigger the challenge, the more dopamine you get after accomplishment.

While these chemicals focus on individual achievements, the release of serotonin and oxytocin depends on others’ reactions. You feel proud when teammates praise your leadership style. That is serotonin for you. On the other hand, the more you bond with someone and receive trust and respect in return, the longer the effect of oxytocin is on your body.

The four collaborative chemicals make you feel safe when you are valued and are in the company of loved ones.

Do You Have a Reptilian Brain?

If you like putting yourself first, you have a reptilian brain that gets more kicks out of momentary endorphins and dopamine. Unfortunately, companies are advocating self-interest more than collaboration and empathy. They are awarding employees that focus on achieving individual targets more than selflessly helping others to reach their goals. Encouraging this behavior does not help in the long run. Sinek believes that the 2008 recession was because banks and mortgage companies wanted to make more money at the cost of people’s trust.

Paying Empathy Forward

Costco CEO James Sinegal gave a $1.50-per-hour pay hike to employees during recession explaining that in an economic crisis you should pay the workers more. Today, Costco’s employee turnover rate is less than 10 percent. Sinek points out that leaders need employees to understand their vision. So, it is your responsibility to give them a perfect work environment to fulfill company objectives. Instead of being critical about the sudden dip in work quality, ask the teammate what is bothering him or her. Small acts of empathy and kindness build relationships and come back with more compassion and altruism.

To view the original article in full, visit the following link: https://www.success.com/article/why-the-empathetic-leader-is-the-best-leader

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