Empathy in Leadership is Important For a strong Brand Reputation

Visual Courtesy: www.wisdomforfutureleaders.org
Visual Courtesy: http://www.wisdomforfutureleaders.org

Leadership style of an organisation has a direct impact on the brand’s image and reputation. Empathy or showing the understanding side (of our human self’s) is often confused as a ‘weakness’ by many a leader. The lack of empathy comes about from a pre-determined effort to keep emotions out of work related issues. Yet we forget that at the core of our being, emotions are an extremely strong driver for all our actions.

There has been a lot written, practiced and implemented on this issue. My purpose is not to labour this point but to highlight the direct correlation between how lack of empathy impacts a brands’ reputation.

Organisations with C-Suite leadership that operate on the classical 6-styles of leadership (Visionary, Coaching, Affiliative, Democratic, Pacesetting, Directive) often miss out on the all important aspect of “empathy”. These styles, whilst good in their own way, come from a management school of thought where achievement (at any cost) was the primary objective.

Today much work has been done in aligning these leadership styles with both, technical competencies and behavioural attitudes, or in other words marrying logic with emotion. Organisations have realised that employees are creatures of habit. Habits that were formed much earlier in their lives before they became employees (at the organisation). Changing habit is a huge task and oft fraught in failure. But by using the right leadership styles combined with key behavioural attitudes and technical competencies, work flow processes can be influenced. Over time the methodology of an activity work flow results in the employee behaving in a way as planned by the organisation.

The way I have written it above may seem to make the task of having the right leadership style laced with the right behavioural attitudes simple. Whilst it is simple, the devil lies in the detail and the extent of granularity that an organisation would want to go to.

However, let me not digress.  Coming back to the point– how does the lack of empathy impact on a brands’ reputation?

The following flow chart depicts the reality that takes places:


With a fragmented reputation the brand stakeholders would be cautious of increasing their interactions with the brand. This results in a few “lows”— externally there would be lower referrals, lower sales, internally there would be low employee engagement, low productivity, creativity and low revenue. End of the day the sustainability of the entire organisation would be at stake.

In another post, we’ll look at how, how do you do a turnaround in case you’ve hit rock bottom on your organisational leadership and brand reputation.