Empathetic leadership in the workplace is a necessity

Empathetic leadership in the workplace is a necessity

Work-life balance in a crowded city like Dhaka is one of the biggest obstacles for newcomers. The lack of acknowledgment experienced by recruits in their workplace frequently leads to discouragement.

They often shoulder most of the duties and are required to put in extra hours to demonstrate their ability and commitment to the job. This raises the fundamental question of whether empathy is a part of this busy city's work culture.

People who comprehend others' feelings and circumstances are more likely to become competent leaders. Compassionate leaders motivate their teams to provide their best effort. They are conscious of their team members' requirements and contributions. Their dedication to their employees results in developing a shared vision and loyalty.

Nevertheless, sympathy and empathy are distinct concepts. The emotions of grief, concern and pity for someone are known as sympathy. In contrast, empathy is the capacity to perceive other people's feelings and comprehend their perspectives on a predicament.

Empathy boosts innovative thinking

According to Tanzim Rahman, a final-year student from the department of Business Administrative in Management Studies at Bangladesh University of Professionals (BUP), who worked at 'Inspiring Thought' as an intern, stated, "Being a completely clueless intern who had just started her first job, my experience was at best a lesson for my following ventures. As much as I wished to prove myself, the work culture was highly toxic, now that I recall."

"Our team leader used the stereotypical approach of turning our group of recruits against each other to engage us in unhealthy competition and derive productivity".

This indicated how her first work opportunity caused her mental breakdown due to a lack of recognition and an excessive workload.

She further added, "There was no breathing space. We had to deliver tirelessly to avoid facing threats of being fired. I still remember being so burnt out months after the internship ended that even turning on my laptop felt stressful. Without any recognition or positive reinforcement, I was just extremely glad when the internship period ended".

As a result, the job negatively impacted her overall productivity and participation role.

Such discouragement affects the thinking ability of an employee and prevents them from providing any insightful ideas to the supervisors. Using empathy in the workplace encourages employees to come up with innovative ideas.

Developing relationships based on compassion, understanding, and respect is necessary for understanding and getting along with individuals from various cultural backgrounds.

Cognitive empathy encourages participation

Cognitive empathy is a rational empathy of understanding what another person might be pondering or feeling. Cognitive empathy does not require sympathy; it merely requires understanding.

A strong leader should possess such a characteristic to perceive the opinions and comprehend the workers' emotions to build a competent team force.

Nazmul Hasan, a graduate of Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) from the Bangladesh University of Professionals (BUP) and who worked as an executive at 'Inspiring Thought' mentioned, "When I was recruited, I was instructed to expect instructions from my team leader each week while I worked on upcoming orders from the clients. On the other hand, my superiors would expect me to work at their convenient time without considering my office hours and would neither organise any meetings nor give me adequate instructions."

"At one point, when I understood there were no learning opportunities given to me and I felt very discouraged to participate, it made me leave this job."

The experience of Nazmul Hasan is comparable to that of many new employees who struggle with a lack of connection with their superiors and frequently miss out on opportunities to develop both professionally and personally by harnessing their skills and abilities.

However, there are also a few lucky ones who work in an empathetic workplace and experience positive development and increases in productivity.

For instance, Nadia Ahmed, a recent economics graduate of American International University Bangladesh (AIUB), shared her experience from working as a teacher of standard 8 at an English medium school.

"They initially hired me as a substitute teacher for economics, but after my supervisor noticed my proficiency in the subject and my extracurricular activities, she and my co-workers helped me improve my teaching skills and helped me to highlight my skills. I was able to engage in important discussions and secure a better position at this school due to the encouragement of my colleagues and supervisors."

Some leaders are more naturally empathic than others, which gives them an advantage over their competitors, who find it difficult to convey empathy. Leaders can develop and strengthen their capacity for empathy through mentoring or professional progression if given enough time and support.

The work culture in Dhaka is complex, where some people face frequent backlashes and no recognition, while others get a very supportive working environment.

To reform the work culture, job training should incorporate 'empathetic training' for employers and employees to improve the company's image and boost workers' productivity.

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