The Best Leaders and Companies Lead with Empathy


To lead with empathy isn’t a common leadership trait. in fact, empathy would probably score low on a list of “needed characteristics” of a strong leader. However, there is growing research in today’s business world that empathy is a vital factor in outstanding leadership and as a result, thriving and profitable businesses. Without an empathic work environment, employees tend to be disengaged, showing up to earn a paycheck in a transactional manner without passion and investment.

Seldom is a leader truly not empathetic—but an over-managed system reduces a leader’s ability to lead. Leaders in an over-managed business can feel less empowered to use their gifts or create a more equitable environment. The management system, defined by the culture, environment, and policies, can cause empathetic people to behave in unempathetic ways.

Empathy doesn’t just affect the employees but can emotionally impact the customers they serve. 

To lead with empathy is characterized by several principles that shift a leader and work environment. Belinda Parmar is a researcher and founder of The Empathy Business. She works with major corporations to analyze their current empathy factor giving practical suggestions on increasing empathy within the company. 

Empathy classified into seven data measurements:

  1. Empowerment: How well does the company listen to its colleagues, clients, and communities?
  1. Meaning: How well does the work I’m doing (or the company is doing) align with my values? The values of its clients? Communities?
  1. Belonging: Do I feel a sense of belonging here? Is my presence essential and valued, or do I feel dispensable?
  1. Reassurance: Does this company deliver what they promise? For example, if they promise a great work environment, is it a great workplace? Do customers feel the same reassurance that they get what they expect from the company?
  1. Authenticity: Can I be authentic to those I work with here? Am I the same person at home and work?
  1. Collaboration: Is there a hierarchy present that separates people? Do employees have the power to be heard and work together? Are ideas received and valued?
  1. Ethics: Does this company hold itself accountable? Is it responsible to itself (and its people) first?

The truth is, small changes within a large company can have a considerable impact. Empathy, when practiced and implemented, can transform the workplace from the inside out and causes a ripple effect in employee engagement and performance. 


Empathy is a subset of authenticity, compassion, being real, transparent, and human. Outstanding leadership depends on it! For three decades, I’ve been helping people become better leaders to elevate organizational performance. Please get in touch with me at Tom Flick Communications to learn more.