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Empathetic Leadership and its Path to the Power Table

Empathetic Leadership and its Path to the Power Table

Once upon a time, empathy had no place at the power table. Traditionally, leaders steered far away from empathetic qualities for fear of being associated as “too sensitive” or “too emotional.”

Women have always been tagged with these very "unleadership-like” negative qualities (aka "too emotional," "too sensitive," "too empathetic," "too girly”). For some reason, our society has unjustifiably defined these qualities as the opposites of confidence and strength.

Thankfully, the power game is finally changing. It’s becoming more and more inclusive, and more and more in touch with human nature and feelings. Why?

Because women are not only taking their seats — they’re also bringing they’re assets to the table for the better.

In the post-2016 election era, it is undeniable that women leaders are on the rise. In increasing numbers, women are raising their voices, running for office, starting companies, and shattering glass ceilings across the board.

Most relevant to this shift towards equality is the fact that women are making breakthroughs together. On a global scale, women are collaborating together to make the change we need to see for our permeant spots at that quintessential “power table.” (And it’s about damn time!)

“Women supporting women” is catching like wildfire. And this strength in numbers is effectuating this vast and swift change for the better in modern society.

In essence, women are redefining the social norms of gender and sex in leadership. In turn, leadership itself must also be redefined to fit this new role: one that shifts qualities once perceived as “too feminine” to “gender neutral” and positively necessary to great leadership.

[Related: The Gender Gap Isn’t About Sex. It’s About Power.]

Naturally, the cause and effect of change work in correlation with each other.

Yes, in general, women are known to be more sensitive/emotional/empathetic/compassionate than their male counterparts. But these are qualities — and not flaws — necessary to meaningful and purposeful power just as much as are those traditionally associated with being “masculine.”

The effect of changing one thing has a tidal wave effect on the outdated views of how we see things. With the change of power from unbalanced to inclusively stable (and hopefully one day soon, just equal), naturally, our perceptions of what power is must also follow suit.

[Related: Science Proves Demonstrating Kindness in the Workplace is Your Competitive Advantage]

Here enters “empathetic leadership.”

Empathetic leadership is the understanding of humans as individuals and the appreciation of each other to lead by example with power and greatness. Leading with empathy allows a balanced mix of confidence, strength, sensitivity, and compassion in handling the situations presented.

It helps us find peaceful solutions — not wars. It puts people on the same page to be proactive — not reactive. It brings families together — and rekindles old loves. It is all-encompassing, and sometimes hard, but it makes this word a better place to live.

Empathetic leadership is necessary for the new age leader. Show appreciation to a woman in your life today for bringing empathy to the power table...after all, she just may be your next President.

[Related: What I Learned About Feminism From Malala, RBG, Gloria Allred…and Trump]


Christina Vergara is a lawyer admitted to the bars of New York and New Jersey. She is focused on helping people and making an impact on the injustices of the world — whether big or small — for the better.

Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.