The Centre for Creative Leadership conducted a study with 6,731 leaders from 38 countries in which they asked the question: “Is empathy needed to be successful in a leader’s job?”. Their results revealed that empathy is positively related to job performance. Managers who show more empathy towards those they lead are viewed as better performers in their job by their bosses (Weber et al., 2007). But empathy goes well beyond just leadership. A famous study done at Google (Project Aristotle, 2012) found that the teams where colleagues had more empathy were more connected, psychologically safe, and collaborative – which, at the end of the day, resulted in better performance.


As a defined EQ skill is explained as follows: “Recognising, understanding, and appreciating how other people feel. Empathy involves being able to articulate your understanding of another’s perspective and behaving in a way that respects others’ feelings“ (MHS, 2011). Empathy is a critical skill for helping teams reach their potential and is all about looking beyond yourself and your own experience. Daniel Goleman says, “Self-absorption in all its forms kills empathy, let alone compassion. When we focus on ourselves, our world contracts as our problems and preoccupations loom large. But when we focus on others, our world expands” (Goleman, 2007). It is this “expanding world” that generates, instead of restricts, ideas, opportunity, and output. 

Emotional Self-Awareness

Is “recognising and understanding your own emotions. This includes the ability to differentiate between subtleties in one’s own emotions while understanding the cause of these emotions and the impact they have on your thoughts and actions, and those of others” (MHS, 2011). Empathy is blocked if we are caught up in our own world and consumed by our own emotions. It is difficult to see others clearly and understand their world if our vision is clouded by our own experience. Emotional self-awareness is useful in this area as it equips us to know what is going on in our world first, and in doing so, paves the way for us to engage freely in the worlds of others. 

Interpersonal relationships

Refers to the “skill of developing and maintaining mutually satisfying relationships that are characterised by trust and compassion” (MHS, 2011). Showing genuine care and an interest in others allows us to share in their experience. This could mean sending one of your co-workers a text when they are ill or asking how your team is doing and genuinely listening to their answers. It might even mean enquiring after someone’s family, asking how their kids are doing, or simply offering to make someone coffee while they push to finish a deadline.