The Role of Empathy in Leadership

Many business leaders neglect empathy because they perceive it as a soft skill. However, understanding how other people perceive the world allows leaders to improve their relationships with their teams and the public.

Empathy Allows for Accurate Analysis

Sometimes, leaders make decisions based on what they think other people should want instead of respecting their actual wishes. If employees feel that their manager will not listen to them, they will become disengaged and withdraw from their work. Thus, a lack of empathy becomes a failure in leadership.

On the other hand, leaders who practice empathy have a better understanding of their employees’ strengths and weaknesses. They are able to meet the needs of their employees and help them achieve their best work. Practicing empathy can also help a leader develop accurate analysis in other matters, such as finances, instead of falling victim to confirmation bias.

Empathy Allows for Better Problem Management

Leaders who demonstrate a blatant lack of empathy can worsen corporate gaffes. During the BP oil spill of the last decade, CEO Tony Hayward complained that he wanted “my life back.” His statement angered the public, who thought Hayward was not empathetic to the 11 men who died in the explosion and thousands who lost their livelihoods, and fueled the movement to boycott BP.

Mistakes will happen in business. An empathetic response will prevent the damage from worsening, especially in terms of public opinion and consumer behavior. Empathy in the workplace can also prevent problems such as harassment and exploitation, which harm employees.

Anybody Can Practice Empathy

Some people are indeed more empathetic than others. However, empathy is similar to a muscle that anybody can strengthen. Leaders who recognize that they struggle with empathy can intentionally take time to slow down their responses in meetings to avoid making hasty, curt statements. They can also ask an accountability buddy to help them.

Empathy, as with other so-called soft skills, is irreplaceable in the workplace. Leaders who practice empathy improve their problem-solving skills and earn the respect of their employees.

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What Differentiates A Business Owner From An Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurship and business ownership are often conflated and mixed into being one thing.  Plenty of people associate the two because each role is part and parcel of creating a business.  While there may be many overlapping skillsets for entrepreneurs and business owners, there are also plenty of apparent and delineated differences between the two roles.  When starting your own business, you must understand the difference between these positions before you begin so that you can effectively hire the appropriate candidates.  Knowing what you’re looking for in a candidate is of utmost importance to fill up your company with proper help.


Set Definitions


It can be helpful to understand that even the words have disparate definitions despite their constant confusion.  According to the oxford dictionary, entrepreneurs are “a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses taking a greater than the normal financial risk to do so.”  This differs significantly from a business owner defined by “an individual or entity who owns a business entity in an attempt to profit from the successful operation of the company.”    Even in the textbook declarations of what each role is, it’s relatively straightforward the immediate differences. 


 First, note that entrepreneurship tends to include greater financial risk.  Those who work in the world on entrepreneurial activities tend to be willing to take risks and always have skin in the game when it comes to the companies development.  Sometimes this comes with potential back-end benefits, so when working with an entrepreneur, be clear upfront about what they can expect to receive should the company succeed (and it’s probably best to have that agreement be legally binding).


Where you want someone more willing to take risks as an entrepreneur, you may want someone a little more conservative as a business owner.  A business owner tends to center on profitability and sustainability and maybe more risk-averse than an entrepreneur.  As their job is to sustain the business, risks come across as more dangerous to these individuals.  Further, entrepreneurs tend to have big ideas and want to plan, while business owners tend to focus on sustaining one great idea in the present.  


Legal Differences

There is also a legal difference between an entrepreneur and a business owner.  Business’s legal status’ tend to be the difference-maker here.  Entrepreneurs tend to be incorporated, while small business owners tend to be unincorporated.  In the process of determining your legal status, remember that “incorporated business owners reported an increase f $6,600 in median annual earnings compared to their previous salaries when they became entrepreneurs”.

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How to Remain a Good Leader From a Distance

One of the most essential aspects of being a leader is finding the balance between micromanaging and being too “hands-off.” You want to give your team the freedom they need to do their jobs, but you also want to make sure people stay on task.

So, how do you remain a good leader from a respectable distance? Here are a few tips for maintaining just enough space to provide that freedom without entirely letting go of the reins.

Structure and Guidance

Routines are essential in a workplace setting. In remote environments, which have become common with COVID-19, those routines help employees stay on task and continue striving toward their goals.

Checking in is fine. It lets you as the leader know where the team is while also letting them know that there still is some accountability and structure involved. Whether communicating remotely or in person, check in and see where the team is at. Make sure that everyone is working toward that shared common goal.

Listen to Employees

It is also important to gauge how employees are doing. Not just with their work, but how they are feeling in general. Not only does it let the team know that leadership is thinking of them, but it allows for help and guidance to be implemented.

By listening and helping employees, the team sees that leadership cares. When we know that those in charge care about us as people, it makes it all the easier to want to work hard for them.

Know Who Is Working on What

There is an important distinction between knowing what everyone is doing and micromanaging. By knowing where people are in a task and how they are doing, it allows the manager to be flexible. Those doing fine can be left at a respectable distance.

But those struggling can then use leadership as a helping hand. Finding that balance shows that you are willing to help out without being controlling or imposing.

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How to Plan for More Efficient Meetings

Many workers dread going to meetings. They believe that meetings interrupt their workflow and take away time that they could spend completing valuable tasks. However, meetings are necessary for most workplaces to ensure that people are on track to meet their goals. Here are some tips to make meetings more efficient.

Have Clear Goals (and Stick to Them)

Every meeting should have a clear purpose, even if the goal is only to share updates. The meeting should be structured in a way that guides all discussions towards the goal.

Making sure that a meeting stays on track requires a little preparation beforehand. Sometimes a manager may need to draw up a detailed agenda or presentation to structure a meeting. Other times, simply designating a speaking order is enough. Even a little preparation goes a long way in ensuring that a meeting stays on track and does not go over time.

Be Respectful of Others

One of the main reasons why employees resent meetings is that they feel that their time or ideas are not respected. Acknowledging that you value your employees not only increases their engagement in a meeting but also improves meeting efficiency.

Timeliness is one of the main ways that managers can show respect during meetings. Starting and ending meetings on time shows that managers understand that their employees’ time is valuable. Actively soliciting contributions ensures that ideas flow more quickly and prevents awkward silences.

Follow up

Following up after a meeting is a way to reinforce the importance of meetings and prevent repetition at the next one. Managers can share meeting notes so that everyone in the company has access to the ideas people developed during a meeting.

Change the Name

The word “meeting” by itself conjures up feelings of dread. Choosing a different name for a meeting, especially one that is clear about its purpose, will increase engagement. Employees will attend a “Weekly Check-in” knowing exactly what to expect.

Leading more efficient meetings will increase cohesion in your team and improve productivity in the workplace.

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How To Tell A Good Leader From A Bad One

A difficult skill to develop is the ability to determine good leadership from bad leadership.  While plenty of us have experienced both, it can be challenging to define either situation’s traits.  More often than not, we know whether we like leadership when we’re sharing it, yet lack the language or skills to describe what a leader should be and how a leader should act.  


However, there are plenty of resources dedicated to developing a more robust understanding of what we want from leadership.  Plenty of research in the last century has been dedicated to this very question to understand what creates a strong workplace culture and limits your ability to work.  There are plenty of signifiers on an excellent leader and lousy leader to look out for regardless of your field or business background.  The personality traits of a good and bad leader tend to translate across industries.  It’s imperative to remember that just because someone lacks leadership skills doesn’t mean they lack value to your company.  Plenty of experts and geniuses have been renowned for their poor leadership skills.  Michael Jordan famously struggled with connecting to his peers in a way that inspired them to be better.  It is not an indictment of Jordan’s greatness, just further evidence that a good leader and a talented team member are not always the same thing.


Signs of A Good or Bad Leader


The first way to determine an individual’s leadership skills is to look at the team’s chemistry. For example, one person who complains about a leader probably had a nasty run-in with that leader and as a lone voice of complaint probably holds little water.  But if an entire team is complaining about an atmosphere or leader, it’s usually a fair sign that something is rotten in Denmark.  Trust the democratic process in these instances and that out of many, one idea is often accurate.  


Poor communication is a hallmark of bad leadership.  Whether it’s ignoring subordinates’ input, struggling to keep individuals aware of important policies, or just being outright rude to your employees–communication is often the first sign of a good or bad leader.  Poor leaders struggle to respect or listen to their staff’s opinions, even from those with experience that outstrips the leader.  


A great sign that a company you are looking at might have poor leadership because there is high employee turnover.  Good leadership often results in employees that are pleased with their workplace and who want to stick around to see it grow and do better.  If you are applying for a job and see that the workplace turnover is high, it may be a sign of disorganization or discord within the company.  Make sure you ask during interviews what employee turnover is like, as it is a subtle way to get a sense of its leadership.

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Why Curiosity Is an Essential Leadership Trait

Curiosity and the willingness to learn and grow are essential to any successful leader. After all, there are goals to constantly strive for, new innovations and materials to be studied, and information to be learned.

Moreover, there are plenty of benefits to being curious as a leader. Here are just a few of those benefits.


Curiosity is what encourages employees to look for critical information not only from one another but from leaders. By being curious about developments in the industry, you show them that you are invested in learning and growing.

Curious leaders also tend to take the challenging situations on with a more creative eye. That curiosity ultimately fosters a better performance by encouraging people to find new and different solutions to an existing problem.


One of the most critical aspects of being a leader is inspiring the team, right? Well, one of the best ways to motivate the team is to show that you, as the leader, are trying to grow and improve as well. Perhaps something such as a workshop would be beneficial. Task each staff member to think up a viable solution to the problem at hand.

Curiosity is also seen as being just as essential as intelligence. Curiosity is what helps leaders to improve and innovate the existing methods. It is also what helps leaders capture the proper information to drive their team forward and achieve the tasks and goals laid out before them.

Encourages Learning

No matter what role we play, both in work and in life, we should always be striving to learn. By learning and growing through experiences, we become better at what we do. Not only that, but we tend to learn new and more creative methods for problem-solving.

Curious leaders ask themselves all the time what unique challenges they face. They ask questions that relate to the problem. They listen to their team members, inviting constructive discussion. They know there is always new information to be gleaned.

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How Can Your Business Adapt in Times of Crisis?

The global pandemic has taught businesses the value of flexibility in times of crisis. Learning how to adapt will be valuable even after the pandemic is over.

Use the Power of Technology to Your Advantage

The pandemic has taught the world the importance of the Internet. Even when people could not leave their homes, they could still socialize, shop, and inform themselves, thanks to the Internet and social media. Savvy business owners can use the Internet to generate sales and deliver products to customers.

Even businesses that may not seem as if they could benefit from the Internet, such as live theater companies, can use the Internet to deliver their services.

Use the Internet to Diversify Your Customer Base

The Internet makes it easy for businesses to attract new customers, even customers that are located far away. Online shopping tools, such as marketplaces and food delivery apps, bring a business’s profile to customers who may not have noticed it before.

There are other ways to use the Internet to increase your business’s profile besides shopping sites such as social media. Business owners can advertise on social media sites and build community organically by posting content on their social media pages. Posting in community marketplaces is another way for businesses to generate leads.

Get Creative with Your Services

If a business’s regular offerings are not generating any leads, it may be time to add new services. Companies have found many ways to diversify their services during the pandemic, such as offering subscription packages or special discounts. Customers like to know that they are getting a deal in exchange for supporting a business during tough times, and will come back even after a crisis passes.

During a crisis, the needs of customers change. Successful businesses can weather crises by adapting to meet those needs. A business that can offer a new service or new delivery method that adapts to a changing market during a time of crisis is better able to survive and shows consumers that it cares.

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Leaders Who Excelled In 2020

2020 proved to be a challenging year for many, whether it was personally or professionally.  Global recession, global pandemic, and general instability can leave many corporations, companies and institutions shaken and nervous about what the future holds.  Still, there were also plenty of groups that excelled in the pandemic and used the opportunity to grow, change, and re-evaluate their present circumstances.  The steadying of the ship in these stormy times is rightfully attributed to leadership’s ability to keep people calm, focused, and moving in the same direction to tackle the same goals. All three of those tasks are easier said than done and become harder than the larger group you are attempting to manage.


There were plenty of leaders for the year who made impactful decisions across industries.  For some, this meant pivoting away from a prolonged project; for others, it meant finding a way to keep your team cohesive in the face of despair.  Plenty of employees have shared the significance of leadership and its role in helping them maintain a solid work ethic amidst Covid-19.   Let’s look at some of the last year’s leaders who excelled and what they did to make their communities feel safer, stable, and secure.


Dr. Anthony Fauci


Dr. Fauci became a staple for most Americans looking for a voice of reason and logic amid so much chaos.  He calmly and deliberately provided individuals with the pivotal knowledge they needed to protect themselves and their loved ones.  He was unafraid to speak truth to power and inspired millions to do the right thing and stay indoors during the pandemic.  The epitome of a good leader, Dr. Anthony Fauci, deserves immense praise, recognition, and gratitude for how his steady hand helped combat the Coronavirus.


 Jack Ma


The billionaire founder of Ali Baba, Jack Ma, managed to work for solutions when all others could point fingers.  As a firm believer in US-Chinese cooperation that exists, Jack Ma cut the guardian knot of geopolitical tension to provide much-needed relief across the globe.  He managed to donate thousands of testing kits and a million masks to the CDC and simultaneously managed to get 1,000 ventilators to New York State.  Mr. Ma didn’t just focus on New York, though; he also donated nearly 18 million masks, 3 million test kits, and a thousand ventilators to over 100 countries in Latin America and Africa.

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Why a Mission Statement Is Important for Business

Mission statements are short phrases that capture a company’s goals and values. A clear mission statement can improve work culture within a business and ultimately generate more revenue.

Create a Distinct Identity

Businesses with a clear mission statement set themselves apart from their competition. They may all be working in the same industry, but a company with a mission statement demonstrates that it has thought about its goals and cares enough about its products to incorporate them into a mission.

Mission statements attract consumers and potential talent as well. People like to feel as if they are part of something larger than themselves. Talented workers are more likely to join a company where they have a clear goal to work towards and that their work benefits society.

Improve Cohesiveness Between Current Employees

Mission statements are not only important for attracting potential employees, but also for motivating current members of the team. Employees at a company with a distinct mission statement know exactly what the company expects from them and what they are working to achieve.

This feeling of cohesion translates into improved productivity. Employees that receive clear expectations from their companies are more motivated to create high-quality work, especially if they can envision the goal that they are working towards. They also identify more strongly with their company.

Look Towards the Future

A clear mission statement ensures that a company is always looking towards a future. Even when employees and managers are involved in the minutiae of day-to-day work, they can keep an idea of the company’s future development in the back of their minds. There are no meaningless tasks if every job is helping the company achieve its mission.

A mission statement also makes it easier to plan for the future. Developing business plans is easier when the company’s goals are easily accessible.

Mission statements should not be dismissed as corporate window dressing or empty words to put on a website. They can be the guiding force behind a business’s expansion and daily operations.

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Business & Storytelling & You

Storytelling skills are an important thing for businesses to possess. If a business is good at storytelling, then they’ll have an easier time showcasing what they have to offer in a positive light. Read on to learn more about how impactful storytelling can be in the world of business. This could help you to build your brand up and realize your business goals.

Storytelling Is Crucial for Marketing

Being able to clearly communicate a narrative is important when you’re trying to market your business. People need to have a reason to pay attention to your marketing materials. The best way to go about this is to have a story that is easy to understand and has a clear message. If you can focus on improving your storytelling skills, then you’ll be able to mold a narrative that will help you to engage with customers on a deeper level.

People Relate to True Human Stories

You should also be able to see that storytelling can be used as a way to relate to customers. True human stories help companies to come across as more than just faceless entities. Some of the largest companies in the world have really engaging stories to tell because of how they launched their companies. Finding a way to relate your personal story about your business is the best way to help customers understand what you’re all about.

Storytelling Helps You Stand Out From the Competition

Businesses should be using storytelling as a way to differentiate their companies from other similar companies. There are likely many companies that offer HVAC services in a given area. If one company is better at storytelling and has good marketing ideas, then they’re going to stand out in a positive way. Even if your company offers services of a similar quality to other businesses, it’s going to be easier to drum up business if storytelling is implemented properly.

It Promotes Brand Loyalty

Finally, you should be using storytelling to your advantage in the business world because it promotes brand loyalty. Once people are familiar with your story, they’re going to engage with it and start doing business with you. Over time, they’re going to develop a sense of fondness for your business because they connected with your story and values. This can turn an occasional customer into a committed customer who will return time and time again.

The post Business & Storytelling & You first appeared on Dan Idhenga | Business & Entrepreneurship.

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