Tips to Lead Your Small Business With Empathy in 2024

Tips to Lead Your Small Business With Empathy in 2024
Why lead with empathy? Here's our handy guide for managers about what leading with empathy looks like through difficult times, and how it can have a positive impact on your business.
by Square Feb 23, 2021 — 3 min read
Tips to Lead Your Small Business With Empathy in 2024

2020 and 2021 delivered many unprecedented and life-changing challenges. Amongst business closures, work-from-home orders and a raft of rules and restrictions changing how we lived and worked, empathy became an even more essential leadership skill. Now businesses and customers are facing a cost if living crisis. Customers are re-evaluating how they spend their hard-earned dollars and businesses are finding new ways to engage their audiences. Read on for tips on how to lead your business with empathy through uncertain times.

What is empathy?

Empathy is the capacity to share another person’s feelings, thoughts or experiences by imagining what it would be like to be in that person’s situation. Being empathetic means being aware of, and sensitive to, what someone is experiencing from within their frame of reference – the ability to place yourself in someone else’s shoes.

Being empathetic doesn’t mean that you necessarily agree with how someone sees things; just that you’re willing and able to appreciate what they’re going through.

There are three types of empathy:

Why lead with empathy?

Empathy is a powerful tool that allows business leaders to be open to and understand points of view that are different from their own. Leading with empathy is an integral part of leading others as it builds trust, strengthens relationships and leads to greater collaboration and better productivity.

As a leader, you’ll inevitably need to make difficult decisions. Empathetic leaders take the time to consider and understand the human element of their choices. What will their employees think and feel? How are different team members likely to react? How can you support them with what they’re going through?

How leading with empathy can strengthen your small business

From building employee engagement to encouraging innovation and looking for opportunities to elevate the customer experience, fostering an empathetic workplace can deliver significant benefits for your small business.


How can I become more empathetic?

Empathy is a natural part of the human condition – we’re wired for sociability and attachment to others, and driven to connect and understand the people we interact with.

A key trait of empathetic people is their ability to listen attentively. If empathy doesn’t come so naturally to you, practice putting your complete focus on the person you’re engaging with – avoiding getting distracted by your phone, computer screen or something else happening in your space. Make it clear that you’re listening by repeating back some of the things they’ve said, and pay attention to verbal and non-verbal cues.

You don’t need to agree with someone to show empathy – but you do need to give that person your attention and set aside your own perspective to learn what they’re thinking and feeling.

With uncertainty firmly on the agenda for business owners in 2021, empathy has become an even more important trait for small business leaders. The ability to ‘put yourself in someone else’s shoes’ isn’t just important for building trust and fostering stronger workplace relationships – it’s vital to keeping your business running smoothly.

The Bottom Line is brought to you by a global team of collaborators who believe that anyone should be able to participate and thrive in the economy.


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