Empathy

Definition

The ability to feel, or sense, the emotions of other people is known as empathy.  Daniel Goleman identified empathy as one of the five dimensions of emotional intelligence.

Explanation

Empathy is sometimes confused with sympathy, which is the act of feeling sorry for someone else.  Empathy, as described by Goleman, is the ability for a leader to understand the perspective of another.  The other four dimensions of Goleman's emotional intelligence theory include:  self regulation, motivation, social skills, and self awareness.

Empathizing leaders are able to understand the feelings of an organization, and build networks to help them stay in touch with the pulse of workers.  They are also well-equipped to deal with the internal politics of a company.   Finally, leaders exhibiting empathy are willing to work in the service of others.  Since they are acutely aware of other's feelings, they are willing to respect and protect the interests of their followers.

Related Terms

self-regulation, motivation, social skills, self-awareness, conditional leadership