How to be an empathetic leader

The actions from the last week have shaken the western world. When tragedies occur, whether it’s at home, in another country or in another state, most people can empathise with those hurt, and the families who have lost loved ones.

Whatever the tragedy may be, the reality is, they occur on a daily basis. And as a boss, how can you handle it if one of your employees is affected?

Here are our top tips for being an empathetic leader:

-  Don’t assume

It can be easy to assume that you know what others are feeling. If one of your most trusted and hardworking employees is struggling due to tragic or personal events, assume they’re telling the truth.

-  Show compassion

It’s important to show compassion to your employees. Of course, you have hired them for a purpose, and it can be frustrating if they aren’t working to their best ability. But it’s also important to show your support by giving compassionate leave, a half day off, or even attending a funeral with your employee to show support.

-  Offer help

The kind of help you give will depend on situation. A national tragedy may encourage you to give money to a charity, or set up a blood donation service. A tragedy closer to home may need a different type of help – rearrange your schedule, give holiday days, or even hire a temp whilst your staff deal with their personal life.

-  Ask what they need

Not everyone reacts to a tragedy in the same way. Employee A and B may have the same thing happen to them, but won’t react exactly the same. Employee A may need a week off, but Employee B may need a half day and a long lunch break. Ask your employee what would be the best situation for them.

-  Don’t break the law

Check the law in your country regarding compassionate leave. If someone has a medical diagnosis, or needs to give care to a family member, be a decent human being, and give them time to recover.

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