I understand that a lack of empathy is not always intentional by leaders and managers. I truly understand the challenges and complexities related to the role of a healthcare leader. But I do believe there are problems associated with the deficit of empathy in healthcare today. There are hundreds of reasons and excuses that sound fairly legitimate for not taking the necessary steps or time to connect, value, and demonstrate empathy toward employees. But that does not make it the correct or admirable leadership behavior. First, the leader must wholeheartedly believe the practice of empathy is important and possess this as a core value within their leadership philosophy. It must be part of the leadership agenda. It is clearly up to each leader and manager to be intentional and create time and space in their leadership agenda to achieve this. Empathy is not something that can be “delegated” to someone else. There will need to be support for this type of cultural environment in the senior and middle management staff, as well as support from governance.
Like so many people working in other positions, this leader may be working in a job that is not in their strength zone. If this is the case, the leader will stay conflicted and frustrated and others around them will feel the same. If a healthcare leader does not possess the competency and values of interpersonal relationships, then this can create major problems in a people industry like healthcare.
We will be talking extensively about equipping ourselves. If you do not currently possess the interpersonal empathy skills you need, seek them. Anyone can develop and improve in this area. Whether you want to succeed in leadership or simply to thrive at work; developing yourself in this area will greatly increase your success.