Leadership and empathy

Eleni Tzouramani*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Theorists across a range of practical and academic disciplines say we are entering “The Age of Empathy.” Having been lately “rediscovered” as an innate capacity to experience the others’ emotions from their perspective and to respond accordingly, empathy is a complex process that combines affective, cognitive, and communicative components.

Empathic leadership is based on the thinking that we are connected with each other and that societies have survived due to our ability to feel for the other and respond. Research shows that empathic leaders create emotional bonds and are therefore competent in understanding and addressing their team’s and customer’s needs, appreciating and drawing on people’s talents, recognizing others’ perspectives in problem solving and including them in decision-making.

This allows for a culture of trust, openness, and cooperation to flourish amongst teams and organizations. Empathic leadership in organizations is not a dualistic leader–follower transaction based on a detached individual’s influence on others. Instead, it is a collaborative process based on deep participation and mutual receptivity. More importantly, empathic leadership opens the way for relational, shared, distributed, and co-creative leadership perspectives.

Empathy can be developed through both cognitive and affective experiences. Organizations are investing in the development of empathy for both their employees and clients and Business Schools are starting to include aspects of empathy development in the curriculum.

The shaping of empathic leadership calls for an adventure in interrelationship!
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLeadership Today
Subtitle of host publicationPractices for Personal and Professional Performance
EditorsJoan Marques, Satinder Dhiman
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9783319310367
ISBN (Print)9783319809472, 9783319310343
Publication statusPublished - 25 Aug 2016
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameSpringer Texts in Business and Economics
ISSN (Print)2192-4333
ISSN (Electronic)2192-4341


  • team member
  • emotional contagion
  • mirror neuron
  • perspective taking
  • proactive aggression


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