In a Nutshell: The word “empathy” makes many executives squirm. They dismiss it as the “touchy feely” stuff that weakens leaders and their organizations. But empathy expert Maria Ross has done the research. On this episode she explains why empathetic leaders have a big advantage when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent, as well as sticky customers who spread the word and drive growth.

Guest: Maria Ross, a brand strategist, speaker and author of the book The Empathy Edge: Harnessing the Value of Compassion as an Engine for Success.

My Key Takeaways:

  1. Empathy is not an accident. Companies that truly care about their employees and customers build empathy into every touchpoint and their overall mission.
  2. Make problem solving a group activity. Complex times for business and the world call for diverse teams that can see — and feel — every possible angle.
  3. Be authentic. Empathy is not a marketing or branding strategy, it’s a cultural value that should permeate all of your leadership decisions.

Also Learn:

  1. How a serious medical emergency opened Maria’s eyes to the power of empathetic organizations.
  2. Why it’s important that companies understand and actualize the differences between empathy, sympathy, and compassion.
  3. Why being more empathetic is good for sales.
  4. How to screen for empathetic hires and train your existing team to embrace their humanness.
  5. Maria’s seven characteristics of empathetic leaders.
  6. Using common objectives to keep teams aligned even when they have different perspectives.
  7. How REI used authentic empathy to create its successful #OptOutside Black Friday campaign.

Complementary podcast: One of the empathetic companies that Maria studied is Brighton Jones, a top RIA in the Seattle area. I spoke to CEO Jon Jones about building a culture so strong that he was able to spend a year away from the business travelling with his family.  Listen/read here.

Resources Featured In This Episode

The Empathy Edge podcast Listen to Maria’s podcast.

Red Slice Maria’s brand strategy company.