Empathy – A Necessary Leadership Trait

Why is Empathy such a critical part of Leadership Training and Customer Service Training? We are often asked this question by HR professionals who are giving us the training needs of the organization. Here is adequate proof that conclusively answers the question:

I heard a story yesterday that I wanted to share with the world. A group of salesmen were returning home after finalizing a multi-million dollar deal. The negotiations took longer than expected and they reached the airport without much time to spare. They grabbed their luggage and raced through the doors of the airport. In the rush, one of them caught the edge of an apple cart spilling the apples all over the sidewalk. However, even a moment’s delay would have caused them to miss the flight. They all continued without turning back.

The team heaved a sigh of relief when they got their boarding card and entered the flight. They were the last ones to enter and the air hostess moved to close the door. At that point one of them said, “Here is my wife’s number. Please inform her that I will be catching the next flight out. I have something important to do.” The puzzled co-workers did not get the time to question him before he ran out.

He wanted to ensure that the apples had been picked up. When he reached there, much to his amazement, very few of the apples had been gathered. People were rushing but no one seemed to notice the strewn apples. Suddenly he noticed the figure of a young girl, near the apple cart, huddled over and crying. He approached her and realized that she was about 16 years old and she was blind. She was the one who was selling the apples. She could not pick up the apples and was distraught. He was speechless. He reassured her that he would help her and started to collect the apples. A few of them had been damaged by the fall. He kept the damaged ones aside and stacked the good ones on the cart. Slowly the crying of the girl subsided.

After all the apples were picked up, he pulled out $40 as compensation for the damaged apples and handed it over to the girl. He apologized for his actions and started to walk away. All this time the girl had not said one word. In fact he wondered if she was mute as well.

After about 5 steps he heard a voice saying, “Excuse me sir. Are you Jesus?” Overwhelmed with emotion he did not turn back.

When I heard this story I was sad that no one had asked me this question till now.

Has anyone asked you this question? What have you done to deserve this honor? We would be delighted if you could share your story with us.

Do not stand on a high pedestal and take 5 cents in your hand and say, “here, my poor man”, but be grateful that the poor man is there, so by making a gift to him you are able to help yourself. It is not the receiver that is blessed, but it is the giver. Be thankful that you are allowed to exercise your power of benevolence and mercy in the world, and thus become pure and perfect. – Swami Vivekananda

Read some of our recent blogs that readers have benefitted from:

  1. What Can Aladdin’s Genie Teach you on Communication Skills?
  2. Handling Difficult Conversations – A Leadership Essential
  3. Why Communication Skills are the Epitome of Human Progress