Paul Hargreaves: Empathy
“The people have chosen empathy” were the words on the huge stage screens at the Biden Harris victory event over the weekend. It is an immense relief to many in the world that over 75 million people in the USA have chosen a more reconciliatory leadership than before, yet worryingly 70 million people still voted for a continuation of the racism and division we have seen over the past four years.
I am not going to make any comparisons with the UK’s politics, you can do that for yourself, but I challenge you not to consider empathy as a vital characteristic of a good leader. Yet those of us have experiencing a truly empathetic leader in our past is probably a smaller percentage than those who have. One reason for this is that for much of our lives we have only had demonstrated a macho-type of leadership due to the imbalance of too many dysfunctional men in leadership. In that toxic atmosphere women have had to stifle their empathy in order to break through the glass ceilings.
Those days are starting to pass, thank goodness. A more compassionate type of leadership is now becoming more normal. The reason being that we now know that those who are led by someone with compassion and empathy tend to perform better than those in an unloving atmosphere. It’s not difficult to work out, but sadly some leaders through their childhood experiences are unable to move in empathy and compassion, and will need help to change. I know I do.
Let’s finish with some words from a former president, Barack Obama, "Learning to stand in somebody else's shoes, to see through their eyes, that's how peace begins. And it's up to you to make that happen. Empathy is a quality of character that can change the world."
Let’s aim to be those people this week.