Leading with Empathy and Emotional Intelligence

Leading with Empathy and Emotional Intelligence



Written by Anne Wright



POSTED ON 7.08.24

What does it mean to lead with empathy and emotional intelligence — and why does it matter? About 150 Aptivators joined Aptive’s June 6 Consulting Skills Series session on the topic to find out.

“Psychology Today defines emotional intelligence as the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions as well as the emotions of others,” said Taylor Wood, a director on Aptive’s Human Experience team who facilitated the session. “So people with emotional intelligence are self-aware, can self-regulate their emotions and can guide, understand, persuade and motivate others.” This ability can also help people make decisions, solve problems and communicate with others effectively.

People with emotional intelligence also tend to be highly empathetic, a trait that allows people to put themselves in another person’s place or walk a mile in their shoes. Having empathy and emotional intelligence and being aware of different personality types enable leaders to create and foster a work culture that accepts and nurtures differences, which has a huge impact on employee retention and job satisfaction, according to Wood.

Empathetic leadership also leads to innovation, according to a Catalyst study: 61% of employees with highly empathetic senior leaders and 47% with highly empathetic managers were reported to be innovative at work. But over half of U.S. employees who said their boss wasn’t empathetic to their work struggles left their job, according to Wood.

So how can you become an empathetic — or more empathetic — leader? Start by practicing empathy:

  • Try seeing situations from another person’s viewpoint
  • Pay attention to how you respond to others
  • Make yourself vulnerable to others
  • Model empathetic behavior

You also can prioritize emotional intelligence and empathy on your teams by:

  • Conducting training
  • Adopting a top-down culture of transparency and allowing employees to be themselves
  • Ensuring direct, but empathetic, feedback
  • Being open to receiving feedback
  • Connecting with colleagues and getting to know people as people
  • Holding offsite, full-team meetings or workshops
  • Encouraging individuality and celebrating differences
  • Encouraging working and connecting with peers who haven’t interacted before
  • Scheduling time for team building
  • Celebrating team successes



Additional Resources

The best thing you can do is model the
behavior you want to see. You can’t change
other people — you can only change yourself.

– Taylor Wood