Leading with Heart: Hiring Empathetic Leaders

Being a leader goes beyond just calling the shots and making important decisions; it’s about truly understanding, connecting with, and empathizing with the people you work with. Emotional intelligence (EI) is a crucial ingredient in successful leadership, impacting not just how engaged your employees are but also how well your organization performs. Leaders who place value on EI create healthier work atmospheres, foster stronger connections, and drive increased levels of productivity and creativity. All of which is good for the soul and the bottom line.

Emotional intelligence involves having self-awareness, self-control, empathy, social skills, and motivation. Leaders with strong EI can recognize and grasp their own emotions and those of their team members, allowing them to navigate relationships with finesse. They can handle their emotions effectively, making sound decisions even under pressure. Furthermore, they can relate to their team members’ emotions and viewpoints, building trust and encouraging collaboration.

The impact of emotional intelligence on employee engagement cannot be overstated. When leaders show empathy and sincerity, employees feel appreciated and supported, resulting in higher morale and job satisfaction. Research from Gallup indicates that teams led by emotionally intelligent managers are 20% more productive than those led by their less emotionally intelligent counterparts. Moreover, leaders with a strong EI are better equipped to resolve conflicts, offer constructive feedback, and inspire their teams to reach shared objectives.

The success of an organization relies on leaders’ capacity to foster a culture centered around trust, open communication, and psychological safety. Authentic leadership, characterized by honesty and vulnerability, creates an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their ideas and concerns without apprehension. TurningPoint’s CEO Ken Schmitt wrote in The Practical Optimist, “Sometimes, as a leader, you don’t realize how isolated you’ve become. That’s because when you make it to a position of power, people begin to treat you differently. They’re either too afraid to engage authentically, or they overcompensate with constant flattery and a side of bootlicking. Don’t let this become your new normal.”

To sidestep this common dilemma, leaders should prioritize transparency and trust. Think you’re already doing that as a leader? Ask yourself: Do I actively seek feedback, promote open discussions, and foster an inclusive atmosphere where everyone feels heard and respected? There’s your answer.

Schmitt further suggests, “Encourage others to challenge you, to be honest with you, and to avoid seeing you as infallible.” This not only strengthens the bond between leaders and their teams but also cultivates a culture of ongoing improvement and ingenuity.”

Every organization wants leaders like this but don’t know where to find them. Executive recruiters are instrumental in pinpointing leaders who possess high levels of emotional intelligence and empathy. Through thorough assessment techniques and in-depth interviews, recruiters can evaluate candidates’ EI competencies, looking beyond technical skills and qualifications. They search for candidates who exhibit self-awareness, empathy, adaptability, and strong interpersonal skills, ensuring that the leaders they recommend are well-equipped to inspire and rally their teams.

In tandem with partnering with executive recruiters, organizations should embark on proactive measures to fish out and onboard leaders with these qualities.

By weaving these nuggets of wisdom into the fabric of your recruitment and hiring routines, you inject vigor into your organization’s quest to identify and embrace leaders harnessed with emotional intelligence and empathy, propelling success and radiating positivity within the workplace. Ready to hire a leader who leads with empathy and authenticity? Check out the infographic below.