Monday, March 21, 2016

Empathy for Workers, not just Users

Much attention has focused in recent years on the need for product developers to demonstrate empathy for the users, so as to understand how products can be improved to suit their needs.  Empathy is at the heart of human-centered design.   However, more attention should also be focused on the notion that leaders need to show empathy for their front-line employees just as much as they should for their customers.   Here's Kamakshi Sivaramakrishnan, CEO of Drawbridge, explaining to Adam Bryant of the New York Times how important empathy is to her leadership style:

The one thing that has remained consistent is that I’ve always respected people who lead from the front. A sense of empathy is extremely crucial to being a good leader. And it comes much more naturally if you’ve walked in their path.  The best way to inspire respect in people is when you can do what they’ve done or when you’re in the trenches with them. You can’t do that every minute of every day, but that is certainly something that I have respected in strong leaders.

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