Too much empathy and not enough compassion is a bad thing, says a new leadership report by Potential Project, leadership trainers who’ve worked with IKEA and Unilever to name only a few.
Its research concluded that too much empathy – identifying with your team’s problems – can lead to introspection and wallowing, while applying compassion by actually helping out where appropriate is a more proactive and productive way to lead.
“Empathy and compassion are very different,” says Potential Project’s Nick Hobson, “They are represented in different areas of the brain. With empathy, we join the suffering of others who suffer, but stop short of actually helping. With compassion, we take a step away from the emotion of empathy and ask ourselves ‘How can we help?’. For leaders, recognising the differences between empathy and compassion is critical for inspiring and managing others effectively.”
You can also read our blog post on ‘Leading with Feeling’ here.