Empathy – understanding the feeling and emotions someone is feeling as a way to provide solace and support while building understanding and trust – is a critical leadership skill. I’ve written and recorded several messages about empathy in the past few months, because this practice is more important than ever.

In the past, I’ve tried to convince you of the importance, and provided you with some tactical skills to help. Today, I want to give you ways to practice empathy as a part of how you lead and live every day.I call them the Five L’s of Practicing Empathy.

Lean in

You can’t be empathetic at an emotional distance. Lean in physically and come closer emotionally too. Creating physical (when possible) and emotional closeness creates the possibility for empathy. Leaning in creates a sense of closeness, togetherness and intimacy that will help people feel safe enough to share.


You can’t be empathetic without listening, but you are listening for more than their situation, but for how they are feeling in response to and as a result of the situation. Remember that different people will respond to any situation differently. Knowing the facts doesn’t create empathy. Listen to understand how people feel now and what they are seeing in their future.