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Lead With Empathy: How Serving Others Can Benefit Your Team

As a leader, it can be easy to get caught up in day-to-day tasks and forget about the importance of empathy. However, research has shown that leading with empathy can significantly impact team performance and success. According to a study by Harvard Business Review, leaders who demonstrate empathy have teams that are more engaged, motivated, and creative (Dutton & Workman, 2012).

Here are some actionable steps you can take to lead with empathy and serve others:

Listen to Your Team

The first step in leading with empathy is to listen to your team. Research has shown that active listening can improve team communication and lead to better problem-solving (Rogers & Farson, 1957). By taking the time to understand your team's concerns and challenges, you show your team that you care and gain valuable insights into how to improve your team's performance.

Show Empathy

It's not enough to just listen to your team; you must also show empathy. Research has shown that empathy can improve team trust and collaboration (Barsade & O'Neill, 2014). Put yourself in your team member's shoes and understand their perspective. This can help build trust and improve communication, which is essential for a successful team.

Lead by Serving Others

Leading by serving others means putting your team's needs first. It involves actively seeking ways to help your team succeed by providing resources, mentorship, or just a listening ear. Doing this creates a culture of support and collaboration, which can lead to more significant innovation and success. According to a study by Deloitte, leaders who focus on serving others have teams that are more engaged, committed, and loyal (Llopis, 2014).

Develop Your Team

Another way to lead empathetically is to focus on developing your team. Research has shown that investing in employee development can lead to greater job satisfaction and retention (Mone & London, 2010). Provide opportunities for growth and learning, and give your team members the tools they need to succeed. Investing in your team's development shows them that you believe in them and are committed to their success.

Prioritize Well-being

Finally, leading with empathy means prioritizing the well-being of your team. This includes not only physical health but also mental and emotional health. Research has shown that employee well-being can significantly impact productivity and performance (Wright & Cropanzano, 2000). Ensure your team members have the resources they need to take care of themselves and encourage them to take time off when needed.

By leading with empathy and serving others, you can create a team that is not only successful but also happy and fulfilled. Remember, your team's success reflects your leadership, so lead by example and prioritize empathy in everything you do.


Barsade, S. G., & O'Neill, O. A. (2014). What's love got to do with it? A longitudinal study of the culture of companionate love and employee and client outcomes in a long-term care setting. Administrative Science Quarterly, 59(4), 551-598.

Dutton, J. E., & Workman, K. M. (2012). Compassion at work. Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, 1(1), 277-304.

Llopis, G. (2014, June 2). Why the best leaders are servants. Forbes.