A Leader’s Empathy Can Backfire

  • Fact: Expressing genuine care and compassion for your employees builds trust and fosters connection. But sometimes what is most needed from you is not comfort or empathy, but challenge. Consistently comforting struggling employees, or allowing them to underperform because they are facing tough times can send the wrong message and promote dependency rather than responsibility.
  • Action: Next time an employee or family member is struggling to meet their responsibilities or to overcome their challenges, resist the urge you might have to prematurely “rescue” them or let them off the hook. Instead, express your confidence in their capabilities and reiterate your expectations of them. Then hold them accountable while providing whatever support or resources are within reason.