The Competitive Edge of Sympathy
Creating a Culture of Empathy to Drive Success in Business
Shep Hyken interviews Maria Ross. They discuss her new book, The Empathy Edge: Harnessing the Value of Compassion as an Engine for Success, why empathy creates a competitive advantage in business, and how companies can foster empathy from the inside out.
The Interview with Maria Ross:
- Authentic empathy can create a competitive advantage for companies and can reap huge rewards and bottom-line benefits. In an empathetic culture, employees are more innovative and productive, while customers are more loyal and result in more revenue and good press.
- Empathy must be authentic for it to be effective. Avoid the “empathy veneer,” which is the mere illusion of empathy without the reality of it. Companies cannot pretend to be empathetic to reap the rewards that true empathy provides—if they try, it will backfire spectacularly.
- For empathy to be believable on the outside, it must start and be built from the inside out—just like a good brand. This means hiring the right people, training them correctly and continually, rewarding them appropriately, and creating and preserving an internal culture that fosters empathy.
- Set up internal processes and structures that support the culture of empathy you want to build and preserve. This includes rewards structures—appropriately incentivize the action and behavior that reflects the culture you’re trying to foster. You get the culture you endorse and reward.
- Empathy can start now, and it can start with one individual. It won’t happen overnight, but rather through small steps that will result in big change.
- There are five ways leaders and teams can take action now to create empathy:
- Practice presence. You can’t be empathetic if you’re not present.
- Listen more; stay humble. Focus on what you hear without being prescriptive.
- Be curious. The most empathetic people are the ones who ask questions, especially why.
- Cultivate confidence. You cannot be empathetic toward others if you are not empathetic toward yourself.
- Create an environment of trust. You cannot have an empathetic workplace if everyone is living in fear.
- It’s important to facilitate intergenerational understanding. Millennials and Gen Z’ers are some of the most diverse and empathetic people in the workforce. Differences between generations can cause friction and reduce productivity. Embrace communication and work to understand others’ experiences.
“Empathy must start from the inside out, just like a good brand, if it’s to be believable and genuine.” – Maria Ross
“Always start with questions when you’re met with negative behavior in the workplace. Instead of reacting, ask why.” – Maria Ross
“You get the culture you endorse and reward.” – Maria Ross
Maria Ross is a brand strategist, speaker, and founder of brand consultancy Red Slice. She has authored multiple books, including her latest book, The Empathy Edge: Harnessing the Value of Compassion as an Engine for Success.
Shep Hyken is a customer service and experience expert, New York Times bestselling author, award-winning keynote speaker, and your host of Amazing Business Radio.
This episode of Amazing Business Radio with Shep Hyken answers the following questions … and more:
- What is empathy in business?
- How do I create a culture of empathy?
- How do I increase productivity?
- How do I create a company culture?
- How can empathy give me a competitive advantage?