Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Empathy—Great leaders have it and demonstrate it.

What Makes a Leader, by Daniel Goleman, Best of HBR, 1998 is still my favorite summary relating to Emotional Intelligence (EQ) at Work and I recommend it to anyone who is new to, or revisiting, the topic. You can purchase the 10-page article at In addition to offering you a sharp snapshot of EQ, the article can also serve as a great leadership development resource to share with your colleagues or employees as the basis for a rich learning opportunity and discussion.

Empathy is the fourth component of Goleman’s intriguing 5-part model, and a crucial attribute if you want to be a great communicator. I’m choosing to share these particular statements about empathy from Goleman’s article because I believe they offer relevant food for thought for those who may be revisiting the importance of their own ability to feel and demonstrate empathy:

– Of all the dimensions of emotional intelligence, empathy is the most easily recognized.

– We have all felt the empathy of a sensitive teacher or friend; we have all been struck by its absence in an unfeeling coach or boss.

– People who have empathy are attuned to subtleties in body language; they can hear the message beneath the words being spoken. Beyond that they have a deep understanding of both the existence and the importance of cultural and ethnic differences.

– A team’s leader must be able to sense and understand the viewpoints of everyone around the table.


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