Empathy and Efficiency: A Contradiction or the Perfect Combination?

In today’s business world, two buzzwords often seem to contradict each other: Empathy and Efficiency. Even the US-based business magazine “Fortune” (“Efficiency Is In. Is Empathy Out?”) recently delved into this contradiction. While efficiency describes rapid, goal-oriented progress in an increasingly competitive world, empathy can be seen as the ability to understand and empathize with others. The question arises whether these values can coexist or if they exclude each other. New research findings offer interesting insights.

Empathy Promotes Trust

Trust is a key value for businesses and it’s not surprising that empathetic leadership plays a crucial role in it. A study by Wagner and Bucolo in 2019 showed that teams under empathetic leadership have higher performance levels and satisfaction rates. When employees feel understood and valued, trust levels increase, and team coordination is strengthened – both essential components of efficient work.

The Connection Between Empathy and Motivation

Efficiency does not arise in a vacuum. It requires motivated employees who are willing to work towards the company’s goal. Lindebaum, Jordan and Panteli found in 2017 that empathetic leaders achieved better performance results in their teams. Empathic behavior as a basis for employee motivation can therefore even increase a company’s efficiency.

An Empathetic Perspective for Better Decisions

Empathy enables leaders to take a broader perspective when making decisions. This was confirmed in 2011 by a meta-analysis by DeRue et al., which found a positive correlation between empathetic leadership and effectiveness. When leaders understand the needs, motivations, and concerns of their teams, they can make better informed and holistic decisions.

What we can deduce from this: Empathy and efficiency are not contradictory, but are mutually dependent and form the basis for sustainable success.



Would you like to learn more about “empathic leadership as a key success factor”?
Acquire more knowledge about the “new empathy” and use it as a key competence?
Take a look at Joachim Pawlik’s keynote speech at the Handelsblatt Media Group’s “Work in Progress” event:

If you would like to learn more about our approach to modern leadership and the topic of empathy in a professional context, please feel free to contact your personal advisors or schedule a 30-minute introductory meeting directly.

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