Empathy lays the foundation for leading a team

If leaders can’t empathize with others, the rest of their skills won’t matter

At this moment, the most important soft skill for credit union leaders is empathy. According to Oracle, Workplace Intelligence, 70% of the global workforce says the past year has been the most stressful year of their lives. If leaders are unable to empathize with others, the rest of the skills they possess won’t matter. Empathy forms the foundation for communication, team building and all human connection.

Never has empathetic leadership been more tested. Typically, the focus of empathy is on member relationships, yet we have all needed to shift and balance employee needs with member needs to help our staff realize how much we appreciate them. One leader I spoke with says she has recently flexed her empathy muscles more than she ever dreamed would be needed. Not to say she wasn’t empathetic previously! Now she has been able to see firsthand the benefit of empathizing with staff as she sees her deepened connections providing a direct correlation with reducing staff turnover.

The simple act of making space for colleagues to share how they are struggling with new pressures of working, parenting and simply surviving is new to many. Providing a few minutes of relaxed camaraderie building at the beginning and end of meetings is critical to helping everyone feel like their life “off stage” is as important as their life “on stage” at work and beyond.


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