Should leaders be empathetic or firm?

Empathetic leaders are in high demand in the US. In the Nordic countries however, where empathy is an aspect of leadership, the debate is instead if leaders have become too compassionate.

leadership, empathy, firm, tough, Harvard Business Review,

How empathetic should a leader be? Will future leaders be compassionate or firm?

Is the grass always greener on the other side?

It seems you can’t win. Isn’t it interesting that when empathetic leadership is the norm, it’s benefits are being questioned while in countries with less considerate leadership styles it’s considered ideal? Some Americans even go as far as stating that the era of empathy is upon us.

Empathy a handicap?

In the Nordic countries empathy has long been part of management. Leaders have had to be considerate, weather they wanted to or not. Now however, some Scandinavians argue that being considerate is a weakness because it makes it hard to be firm and take tough decisions.

The ideal US boss is empathetic

Harvard Business Review concluded that empathy is high currency for a leader as is softer and more compassionate leadership styles. When it comes to CEOs being considerate, understanding and sympathise with employees and their feelings is considered optimal.

If you google empathic leader and empathetic leadership you get about 6,500 hits. And in general they are about leaders needing to be more considerate. The author Daniel Pink in his book “A whole new mind” writes that in the future empathy will be crucial for success.

Scandinavia a step further?

So have Sweden and Norway with their generally speaking more empathetic leaders taken the debate a step further by questioning if it’s a handicap? Or is it a step back to question if leadership have become to considerate?

Some claim that considerate leaders worry too much and can even be negatively affected by their environment as a result. If so, does that handicap them as leaders?

It’s common sense that leadership is facilitated by compassion. But taking the current debate in Scandinavia into account, maybe empathy combined with an ability to take tough decisions when necessary is ideal?

Most leaders either adopt a persona that’s excessively tough or overly empathetic, or feared or loved, if you like. Obviously neither leadership style is ideal. Maybe a leader focusing on helping other people to achieve their full potential would be best? A happy medium is obviously the ultimate but how many leaders are both compassionate and tough?

Do you believe empathy is an asset or a handicap for a leader? Will we see more empathetic leaders in the future? If so, will the considerate trend then, like in Scandinavia, be questioned because such leaders worry too much which has a negative effect on their ability to manage? What lies ahead for leadership? Will it, like it always has and still is, be a mix of different kinds of leadership styles? Empathetic – to be or not to be – that’s the question leaders have to ask themselves. Or maybe the debate about the ideal leader has gone to far? The different debates going on in the US and Nordic countries certainly makes you wonder, doesn’t it? Maybe it’s time to accept that leaders are different and empathy works for some and not for others?

Photo: Flickr -The White House

84 comments to Should leaders be empathetic or firm?

  • Syed  says:

    Dear Catarina,
    Moderation is the key word. Extremes in any situation are deletrerious.

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Agree with you Syed. But how many leaders are both empathic and firm? So the million dollar question is what's most important for a leader – to be empathic or firm?

  • GuyW  says:

    I really don't believe it can be an either-or answer, Catarina. Being emphatic without empathy – the style of the 80s US CEO – will lead to disaster. Being empathic and unable to be emphatic will lead to a loss of control.

    A good leader needs to know when to be more empathetic and when to be more emphatic. After all, the leader's role is to set the vision and describe the way this can be achieved, and then to lead the team towards this goal. Along the road both skills will be needed.

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Exactly Guy. We all agree on that. But considering the Nordic experience, being emphatic sometimes is a handicap for a leader. On the other hand not being considerate is also a handicap. Catch 22, isn't it?

      All in all Guy I really believe it's time to stop analysing anything to do with leadership as much as is done today. But with Harvard talking so much about the importance of empathy, it amuses me to note that where empathy is practiced the opposite is being said.

      Maybe it's time for the world to accept that different leadership styles work and there is no such thing as the ultimate leader?

  • Eric Saint-Guillain  says:

    In my mind, a leader can show empathy, but he must not forget he has also time to time to take difficult decision. A leader who want only face the positive and enjoyable part of the job will not be a good leader. But when he has to take a difficult decision, he will be maybe understand if he can justify why he has to take such decision, and if he can bring constructive solutions. Let's take the example of a leader who has to fire members of his team because the company is loosing money. By explaining why he has to fire people and why he has no other alternative, and by proposing to help them to find another job by making some recommendations, he will be probably considered as a leader showing empathy but facing also his responsibilities.
    My recent post The discomfort zone

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Agree with you Eric. But what's more important, empathy or the ability to be firm and take tough decisions? Presumably you are of the opinion that that the latter is the most important?

      • Eric Saint-Guillain  says:

        The ability to be firm and take tough decision is more important. If we pay attention, our life is a succession of decisions and actions. But each decision has to be the result of a brainstorm process where we try to find the best solution even if it is a tough one. Of course, the good decision is something subjective. It will be accepted by some people and rejected by others. It you don't take any decision by scaring to become unpopular, than you are not a good leader.

  • resumesurvislady  says:

    It's okay to be empathetiic and understanding, however leaders can not let that impact their decisions. I would like to think that the leaders in the U.S. are empathetic to what this economic recession has done to people, their homes, livelihoods and familiies but at the same time they can't make decisions based on 1 persons situation.

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Agree with you completely. But how many leaders in the US are truly empathic about their employees' situation due to the recession? Msjwoodard made a good comment about that here.

  • Susan Oakes  says:

    I don't think I have ever worked for a CEO that had both qualities. I do believe you can have both qualities as you can make the tough decisions but be aware of the impact on others and show empathy. The company that came the closest with their leaders showing these qualities was Pfizer.
    My recent post Select Powerful Strategies For Marketing Triumph

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Agree with the points you are making Susan.

  • Angel Gonzalez  says:

    Dear Catarina,
    I find leadership types of more complexity than the alternative given here.
    I think that your understanding is that in nowadays world the leader is one person whereas the leadership in most companies and agencies, and in the world new order, as a matter of fact, has become more and more decentralized. You can find, there be crisis or not, two leaders playing the good cop bad cop roles: one is the deputy director getting to know people´s needs and being empathic with workers, and the other is the director knowing people through his/her deputy but taking some distance to be able to take tough decisions without any hesitasion where necessary.
    On the other hand, the grade of a leader´s empathy may vary depending on towards what kind of employee: thus, employees with a lower level of skills and/or potential may receive a lower grade of empathy because they are likely to misunderstand it and need more emphasis when receiving instructions.
    There is also another factor: My bet is that in todays competitive world and depending on the labor market (supply vs. demand) you can afford being more empathic or more emphatic as a leader.

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Agree with you Angel. Defintely.

      However having said that I wish to point out that I'm not looking at leadership as a whole here, merely how empathic a leader should be. If you search on leadership on my blog you will find several articles about it. The subject is far too huge to cover in one short article.

  • Keith Francis  says:

    I suggest that there are, and we should recognise that there are, different leadership styles. There are also different situations which are more suited to one or other leadership style. This does not mean that people cannot learn from others’ leadership style, they can, but they must mould it to fit their values, personality and the situation.
    The main problem is ‘initiative extreme’. This is where any initiative is taken to extremes, beyond realism. The idea of empathetic leadership is taken a point where the lack of toughness undermines rather than enhances performance. Initiative extremism happens in all initiatives. There are endless examples of this extreme happening in other management initiatives over the years.

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Glad you agree with me Keith that we should accept that there are different leadership styles and that being firm and able to take tough decisions is more important for a leader than compassion.

  • Keith Francis  says:

    Another example was Customer Relationship Management. The idea that getting close to the customer, understanding things from their perspective and finding profitable ways to meet their specific requirements would increase competitiveness and performance was powerful. Over time this was taken to an extreme of responding to every customer whim, chasing ever greater customer satisfaction scores to a level that Kaplan once called ‘customer obsessive’. Rather than enhancing performance through customer loyalty, many companies were reducing profitability.

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Interesting and good points Keith.

      However I do believe that the online interchange with customers that is the intelligent approach more and more companies will take will sometimes have that side effect until companies get used to having close interactions with their customers. One reason is the problem of customers taking revenge online which can bancrupt a small company. Search engines record everything and forget nothing, as we both know.

  • catarinaalexon  says:

    Glad you agree with me Yankee Texan Mom that being firm and take tough decisions is more important for a leader than empathy. Having said that a combination of both is definitely the best. But how many leaders does that apply to?

  • Janet Callaway  says:

    Catarina, aloha. Yes, speaking from experience I know leaders can be both empathic and firm. Oftentimes where opinions are skewed in either direction is because of "outsiders" looking at it from their perspectives rather than being involved in the process. Had they been, they would have understood the reason for the decision/action.

    To me, a leader is someone who "leads," who influences the behavior of those around him/her in word and deed in a positive and ethical manner.

    Though I cannot speak at all for the Nordic countries, I know that all too often in corporate America, we have people in high level positions who are not true leaders rather they are managers. That distinction makes all the difference in the balance of empathy and firmness.

    Aloha. Janet

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Yes Janet, all over the world a lot of leaders really are managers which is unfortunate. It's rare to find leaders who make the people they lead truly want to do what they are trying to do. Instead employees simply act because they have to. Having said that a company cannot be lead/magaged by someone who is only empathic. To be firm and able to take tough decisions is more important.

  • catarinaalexon  says:

    Thank you for your kind offer Anthony. However, I'm sorry to let you know that I don't have guest posts since I write all articles myself. Once again, thank you for your interest.

  • catarinaalexon  says:

    Agree with you Sherryl. Empathy is definitely an asset for a leader. As long as he/she is also able to be firm and take tough decisions.

  • Jayne Kopp  says:

    Hi Catarina, I believe a good leader can achieve balance between the two. I feel empathy is important, when managing people, but it's also important not to be soggy. A good leader can maintain a sense of strength at the same time.

    As a previous manager, particularly when I ran my own business and had a good sized staff, being empathetic to my staff worked well. They felt important, rather than just feeling as if they were a 'number' – BUT… they also knew that I wasn't a push over and knew what I expected.

    I really believe a true leader can walk the fine line.

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Agree with you Jayne. The headline of this article is just my way of saying that we really are over analysing leadership.

      Isn't it time to accept that different leaders have different leadership styles? It has always been like that and always will be. Some are emphatic some are not. But a leader who is not firm and cannot take tough decisions will fail miserably, no matter how empathic he/she is.

  • catarinaalexon  says:

    Thank you Stacey.

  • Adrienne  says:

    Hi Catrina,

    I also agree that leaders should be both. There's a time to be firm and there are circumstances where compassion should come into play. I believe this is what truly makes a good leader. Interesting though to see how things are done in other countries.

    My recent post See How Easily You Can Start Building Relationships

  • PGW  says:

    I am of the opinion that better leadership is a life-time process of trying to find the equilibrium between being emphatic & having empathy. To achieve this, a person has to be aware of his/her own strengths & weaknesses. Further, my observation is that the foundation of successful leadership is people skills (including empathy): people need to trust you, want to follow you and have experienced that you are truly concerned about them before they will follow you out of own choice.

    Then, when you have to be emphatic, they will accept your discipline or firmness much easier. Being firm with employees who dislikes you, usually results in high staff turn-over, disloyalty, low morale, decreased productivity and under achieving of an organization. If people feel oppressed, under-valued and 'bossed around', the will sooner or later find a way out of this negative situation.

  • Tim  says:

    Caterina, nice case study in my opinion. My take on the issue is pretty simple and here's it;
    A leader that is worth his salt must be firm and emphatic! There must be a stricking balance. You can't be too firm, you can't be too emphatic and neither are you allowed to show any sign of weakness. If a leader merges this character together, he'll sure succeed.

    Thanks for this wonderful post! You're doing a great work here!


  • Julie Weishaar  says:

    Hi Catarina,

    Like anything else in life, moderation is key. How a leader behaves needs to be situation-specific; empathetic and/or firm – even at the same time – if necessary!
    My recent post In Honor of Mother’s Day and My Mother

  • Suthagaran Nair  says:

    An intiguing post indeed I would say!,

    When one asks about whether a leader should be empathic or not it is like asking one to choose which eye you rather live without the left or the right? Although we can still go on living with just either one of the eye but it certainly makes a huge difference having both eyes to see.

    Based on my experience dealing with leaders for that matter it warrants a difficult path when dealing with people. Regarless of the nature of an organization's background the fundamental thing is that it involves human. Be it political or aplolitical humans are involved and it doesn't take a rocket scientists to tell you interelationships invovlves feeling and it is and will be apart of our everyday life.

    Striking a balance between making bold descisions without considering human factor and with considering the later is not the question either as balance is not what is needed.

    The ultimatum is that, leaders should learn to be both and most important of all learning to have the ability to understand situations where you should give importance to being empathic and situations where you have to make bold descisions.

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Thank you Suthagaran. Almost all of us agree that the ideal leader is both. But how many leaders are truly both? It's one thing to pretend to be compassionate and another to be. Actually, most leaders are not even leaders but managers.

      Have a feeling that the reason empathic leadership is so in demand in the US at the moment is because an abundance of American employees feel they have been badly treated during the recession. Then people at Harvard and other experts focus on that.

      Then look at the Nordic countries where empathy is the norm and suddenly the discussion is if it handicaps leaders.

      The point of the article I wrote, that this discussion is based on, is that we really are over analysing leadership.

      Isn't it time to accept that different leaders have different leadership styles? It has always been like that and always will be. Some are emphatic some are not. But a leader who is not firm and cannot take tough decisions will fail miserably, no matter how empathic he/she is.

      • Suthagaran Nair  says:

        YES! I agree with you on this. Different leaders have different styles. All the styles are not perfect neither they are imperfect. I would as saying all leaders are managers but not all managers make good leaders. Whether one is truly empathic or prentending to be empathic is a unknow territory as it is solely lies with the perception of the beholder. The large ambiquity that lies in analysing what makes a good leader and coming up with tonnes of leadership books, seminars and workshops leads to a conclusion where the articulated principles of leadership is just mere guideline and the success can only be seen at the outcome. Hitler is bold but not empathic. Ghandi is empathic but not bold. Both achieved what they wanted to achieve.

  • smoothleadershipchange  says:

    Every time I hear "either/or" I shudder. You have posed an excellent and important research question. Boards that hire CEOs and hiring authorities deserve an evidence based perspective. That's one of the reasons I liked Good to Great as a book. It looked at leadership from a contingency and from an evidence based perspective.

    Since I am a consultant, if I ever get a tattoo on my arm, the tattoo will read, "It Depends……"

    Good luck with your quest, Catarina.

    –Larry Stybel

  • will  says:

    I don't think there is an overall right or wrong answer to this question. I think that it depends on the situation. Some situations may call for an emphatic leader, some for a tough leader, while other situations will require a mix of both. There is a place for every leadership style and it is important to know when your leadership style will shine and what your weaknesses are as a leader so that you can improve upon them.

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Exactly Will, and that's the whole point of the article. We are over analysing leadership and the irony is that it's frequently done by people who are not leaders themselves. There are all kinds of leadership styles and what counts is if they work or not.

  • John Rainford  says:

    I dont see how a leader can be effective without having an empathy with followers.
    My recent post undefined

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Ideally leaders do that, but it's far from always the case John.

  • Radu  says:

    They should be somewhere in the middle. He can't act like a robot but he should maintain a distance also because he will have issues with the productivity.
    My ideal boss is the one who can keep and maintain a good atmosphere at the working place.
    My recent post Appstore SEO expert suggessions

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Thank you for giving us your opinion Radu.

  • Mark Brody  says:

    There is a fine line between empathy and sympathy, and too frequently I think leaders, especially front line leaders become overly sympathetic. You are correct though, the balanced empathetic leader is a model for successful leadership.

    Very thought provoking post, Catarina!

    Thank you for sharing!

    My recent post Ever Feel Like a Pigeon Sometimes?

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Thank you Mark. Glad you like my article.

  • becc03  says:

    As with most things in life, I think that a balance of each makes the best leader. You need both to be effective. Your employees will not respect you if you are not empathetic and will resent you. On the other hand, they also will not respect a leader who is not able to make the hard decisions. If you have respect and can communicate your decisions effectively, then that would seem to me to be the best balance.
    The Nordic countries have been on to a good thing and should not step backward, when the rest of the world are now catching up. It's in the balance, not overly empathetic and not to hard lined.

    My recent post The laziest person in the world

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Glad you agree with me, Rebecca. Empathy is important but it also make employees take too much for granted, be sick a lot and work less, unfortunately. That's what's happened in Scandinavia.

  • Susan Cooper  says:

    I've worked for both types. Then I meet and worked for a man who was both. He was amazing. I learned so much from him. He was a mentor, boss and freind. The organization sored. We became the company everyone wanted to work for. Then the leadership changed direction and he was moved to another unite. We lost that special something and two years later the company was half what it was. If it can be found or taught it can make a huge difference. :)
    My recent post Letters From Grandma By Cheryl Therrien: Books

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Yes Susan, finding the perfect balance between empathy and being firm is fundamental. Too much of either has a negative effect.

  • Geek Girl  says:

    I think you have to have the right combination of both empathy & toughness. A leader without empathy can come across as uncaring.
    My recent post Motivational Monday: 5/27

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Yes, Cheryl.

      But, depending on where you are, empathy can work against you. Have had that experience. What do you do with people who are only nterested in their pay check? That's migrant workers in the developing world for you. Can't say I blame them. But their reaction when you are considerate is to just not show up, thinking they will get away with it. Sad, isn't it. So even though you don't want to, you have to be super firm with them.

  • Doreen Pendgracs  says:

    Having been a leader myself in various capacities, I must say that empathy is a key criteria to successful leadership. In my opinion, the poorest leaders I have seen are those with such big egos that they are not receptive to the needs and concerns of those they have been elected to serve.
    My recent post knowing which conferences to attend can be a challenge

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Agree with you about the importance of empathy. But it depends on where you are. If you have to deal with migrant workers in a developing country empathy will work against you. They simply don't show up if they think they can get away with it. Sad, but true.

  • yearwoodcom  says:

    I agree with you, extremes are not useful. Empathy to the point of being unable to make difficult decisions is useless. Tough to the point that you can't understand what motivates is also pretty pointless. What Scandinavian businesses and those in the U.S. seem to be reacting to is the extreme end of both strengths. Balance and using the strengths you need when you need them is what makes for an effective leader. If leadership was as easy as choosing, this or that instead of a complex blend of different skills, we'd all be leaders. :)

  • Adel M. Ibrahim  says:

    A successful leader has to be kind, empathetic, instructive and firm.

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Maybe Adel. Isn't a great leader someone that people want to follow out of their own free will. How he/she achieves that is less important, isn't it:-)

  • denise  says:

    neither or… why does it have to be black and white?
    A good leader is one who can fight when needed and be compassionate at the same time. THIS comes (my opionion) with age and experience. So MAYBE MAYBE we should ask ourselves – should we hire YOUNG managers or OLDER?
    Should we strive to have experienced and perhaps more cautious managers or younger, more daredevil managers? OR SHOULD WE STRIVE FOR A MIX?

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Agree with you that it's a mix, Denise. Have you ever thought about the fact that leaders can not lead if they don't have the right personality? You can only learn leadership skills to some extent. By the way I'm not young anymore:-)

  • Alexander Shklyaruk  says:

    Army – tough leaders, zero empathy. Church – compassionate leaders, zero toughness. Business – always in between, so leaders need both. How much empathy? 50/50? Depends on organizational business model, strategy and culture/values.

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Yep, Alexander, that's the way it works. What works also varies from country to country.

  • Jeannette Paladino  says:

    Catarina — It's a difficult balance to achieve. Unfortunately, in the world we live in any hint of vulnerability (read empathetic) in a leader is viewed as a weakness. President Obama, for example, only established his leadership and authority with the sneak attack and murder of Osama bin Laden. Then he was considered "tough" enough for the job.
    My recent post Is the Term Journalist Passé As Writers Become Curators of Content?

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Agree with you Jeannette. It's sad, isn't it.

  • mkslagel  says:

    Great article. I think the leadership role should differ based on the type of individuals that leader is leading and the environment and accomplishments that leader is trying to achieve. In some areas, it is necessary to be compassionate and sympathetic but there needs to be times to put your foot down before the individuals underneath you are beginning to walk over you.
    My recent post How to Make your Own Good Luck

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Thank you and I'm glad we agree. There is no set formula for leadership. The only thing that's certain is that a leader has to have the personality it takes. If not he/she will be a manager, even if they consider themselves leaders:-)

  • Esther Coronel de I.  says:

    Hi Catarina This is a very interesting topic. Leadership is connected with values and in every country perception and culture are not the same. This is the reason why empathy and compassion may be seen differently in different countries. Not every human being located on the earth sees or feels the same way. Yes they all need structures and this is what leaders bring to communities. Visionary Leaders know how to blend the power of structures and words to integrate them with the values of their communities to generate wealth and improve life of people. At the end of the day people support a leader because they trust the changes they will bring through their platform and offer.

    My recent post Existe un Secreto para motivar a los Empleados?

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Glad you agree with me Esther. But with some categories of employees in developing countries unfortunately the only way is firmness. They are only interested in their pay check and if you show empathy they try to "get away with murder". Can't blame them because they are so used to being treated badly. Many companies with such employees have had to install finger printing machines to make sure they show up every day and don't leave early.

  • JeriWB  says:

    Striking a balance between compassion and toughness is indeed difficult. I knew one school administrator who broke his school into the "blue" and "green" team. Teachers with a certain style and temperament were then paired with students who would best respond to their teaching style, plus it allowed the principal to remain more responsive to everybody's needs. It's safe to say such a flexible, understanding, and all inclusive leadership style marks that as on of the best functioning schools I've ever seen.
    My recent post A Writer’s Guide: How to Get the Writing Done

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Interesting example Jeri. Personally find the most difficult thing to be not to show empathy to people who will try to take you for a ride if you do.

  • Arleen  says:

    Being extreme only gives you a bad label. Empathy is needed in the US as people here do not think you care unless you are. One needs to balance which strengths is necessary to be that effective leader. If leadership was as easy as choosing, this or that instead of a complex blend of different skills, we'd all be leaders.
    My recent post How to Bust Stress with Stress Fighting Promos

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Glad you agree with me, Arleen. How to lead also varies depending on where in the world you are. Empathy can work against you, unfortunately.

  • Elizabeth Scott  says:

    I believe that a leader has the talent of being both empathy and firmness. A lot of times that is hard for the individual. Being a friend to the other person can lead a person to be too empathetic and not caring enough will lead people to fear them. It is a delicate balance.
    My recent post Letters From Grandma: Before You Were Born

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      True Elizabeth.

      Can't help thinking of the fact that one of the worst mistakes you can make is to hire a friend. How do you get rid of them if they are not performing their duties?-)

  • Cassi  says:

    Being at one end of the spectrum or another is never good. There always has to be some balance of the two and it all depends on the environment – type of business, employees, the situation, etc.
    My recent post Geekatoo – Saving $$ on Local Tech Support, Computer Repair, & More!

  • Leora  says:

    Catarina, seems like it is really about knowing boundaries. It is a good idea for a leader to understand the feelings of one's employees or staff. Whether you act upon that knowledge is something else. Many leaders, at least in the U.S., became leaders because they were good at the task at hand. Understanding the staff and how they operate is important to know. But like with children, you don't say yes just because you understand why someone is asking for something. Interesting that Scandinavian countries have problems with too much empathy.
    My recent post Local SEO: Optimizing SEO for central New Jersey

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Good ponts, Leora. Being too empathetic has in Scandinavia resulted in more and more people being off sick.

  • Carlos Buenos Ayres  says:

    This is a capital issue to understand the leadership concept. There isn’t leader without empathy. And anyone politics system do persist without the resource to the firmness or toughness (but “without losting tenderness”).
    Whole is on the dependence of the historical circumstances.
    In a way, empathy favors all the leaders; future will require increasingly empathy of your leaders; several kinds of leaders and societies generates a “mix of different kinds of leadership styles”; the debate about the ideal of leader is in the beginning (see Sun Tzu); empathy as a whole is linked to the leaders’s life experience; etc.

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      Yes Carlos, that's the way leadership should work. It's not always that easy though:-)

      • Carlos Buenos Ayres  says:

        This is a capital issue to understand the leadership concept. There isn’t leader without empathy. And none political system can persist without making use of firmness and/or toughness – but “without lose tenderness”. All is on the dependence of the historical circumstances.
        In a way, empathy favors all the leaders; the future will require increasingly empathy of your leaders; several kinds of leaders and societies generates a “mix of different kinds of leadership styles”; the debate about the ideal of leader is in the beginning (see Sun Tzu); empathy as a whole is linked to the leaders’s life experience; etc.

        • catarinaalexon  says:

          Definitely Carlos, leadership is fundamental. And empathy should be part of leadership. Unfortunately though there are countries in this world where you can't avoid authoritarian leadership. Unless of course you want staff to rule you:-) By the way, this article is only about one aspect of leadership. Leadership is such a huge concept one article isn't enough to cover it. You need to write a whole book, if not a series of books. If you want to read more articles I have written on leadership, just go to the search square on the right side, write leadership and several will come up.

          • Carlos Buenos Ayres  says:

            No doubt. Tkanks.

  • Tahir Shamshad  says:

    True leader may be considerate in operational decisions but must be firm in strategic ones

    • catarinaalexon  says:

      That's one way of looking at it, Tahir. A leader definitely needs to be both emphatetic and firm. The combination needed varies from country to country.

  • Marlene  says:

    I agree that leaders should be firm but in the time leader should have the capability that depending in the situation when to be empathetic.

  • shigbrotoro  says:

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