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The Crucial Business Strategy All Leaders Must Master to Be Successful This business strategy allows you to connect with your team members and customers on a deeper level, understand their needs and wants and create a more meaningful customer experience.

By Shaan Rais Edited by Chelsea Brown

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Can you feel it? The tides of the workplace norm are quickly shifting. Which side are you on? Are you stuck in the past where traditional plug-and-play marketing methods are fading away as the revenue runs dry? Or are you sinking into your more empathetic side to support a lean team through every ebb and flow of the business world?

Melodramatic maybe, but true nonetheless. Without a doubt, the business market evolved, and the typical consumer avatar shifted in the past few years. No industry was safe from this drastic change.

Clients know they deserve more when it comes to the customer journey, and they're not afraid to keep searching until they find a company that is willing to make good on their investment. Right now, you need to ask yourself one simple question ... Are you that company? Better yet, are you that leader?

The answer to these questions, among other factors, lies in your ability to empathize with both your clients and your team.

Related: Why Empathetic Leadership Is More Important Than Ever

To create a meaningful customer experience, you have to know how to read people's nonverbal cues, understand their verbal language and see the world from their perspective — not just your own.

It takes a high level of emotional intelligence to truly comprehend what others are experiencing and then be able to adjust your words or actions accordingly. This is the empath's gift. Being an empath doesn't mean you are a pushover.

We both know you can't let others run over you if you desire to be a true titan of business. That being said, your team members need to know that when they come to you with concerns, you've got their back — always.

On the other hand, clients need to feel confident in your abilities from the start. They also need to know without a shadow of a doubt that you're always working on their behalf and in their best interest. When they feel this connection with you, they'll be much more likely to remain a customer for life.

How to develop your empathy skills

So, ask yourself again ... are you that company? That leader? If not, it's time to start developing your empathy skills so you can be. Here are a few actions you can take to get started:

  • Pay attention to nonverbal cues
  • Listen with the intent to understand, not just reply
  • Seek out diverse perspectives
  • Practice mindfulness and meditation
  • Check your ego at the door
  • Don't make assumptions
  • Be patient and present in every moment
  • Allow yourself to feel emotions fully, both positive and negative

The ability to empathize is a crucial business strategy that all leaders should master to be successful. Empathy allows you to connect with your team members and customers on a deeper level, understand their needs and wants and create a more meaningful customer experience.

In a world where traditional marketing methods are beginning to fade away, empathy can be the key to differentiating your company from the rest.

The role of an empath in business

In its simplest form, an empath is a person with the ability to understand and feel the emotions of others. It goes beyond being able to put yourself in someone else's shoes; an empath experiences the world of others as if they were living it themselves.

If you're not an empath, reading the sentence above probably left a large question mark in your mind. How can anyone feel exactly what someone else is feeling at any given moment? What an enlightened question. Here's the science behind it.

Every human has what's called a mirror neuron system. This system is responsible for our ability to understand the emotions and intentions of others by simulating their feelings in our own brains. In other words, we can feel others' emotions because our brain is wired to do so.

Some people have stronger mirror neurons than others, which makes them more empathic. These individuals are typically more in tune with the emotions of those around them and can easily read nonverbal cues. They're also quick to build relationships and trust because people feel understood when they're around them.

It doesn't matter whether you're an empath or not; the most important thing is that you understand how empathy works and why it's such an important business tool. The first step to using empathy in business is to understand the different types of empathy. There are three main types:

  1. Cognitive empathy: This type of empathy allows you to understand how someone else is feeling by putting yourself in their shoes and seeing the world from their perspective. It's the ability to see things from multiple angles and understand another person's point of view.

  2. Emotional empathy: Emotional empathy is the ability to feel what another person is feeling. It's different from cognitive empathy because it doesn't require you to put yourself in someone else's shoes; you simply feel their emotions as if they were your own.

  3. Physical empathy: Physical empathy is the ability to understand and respond to another person's physical sensations. This includes both pain and pleasure. For example, if someone is telling you about a difficult time they're going through, you might physically mirror their expressions or body language to show them that you understand what they're feeling.

Related: How Understanding the Power of Empathy Makes You a Better Leader

For business owners: Why an emotionless human being is difficult to trust

Yes, we're all humans, but we probably all know that one person who is stone-cold all the time. And not in a good way. If you're that person, do you truly believe your employees are going to enjoy working for you?

Being unapproachable and unwilling to listen causes low employee retention rates and low company morale. Everyone comes to work knowing they have to walk on eggshells because their boss isn't going to understand that an unexpected family emergency is the real reason why the assignment was a day late.

As the leader of a team with varying emotional needs, you must step up to the plate and develop your empathetic side. Empathy is a crucial quality for any leader who desires to build trust, rapport and understanding with their team.

Empathetic leaders are also able to see situations from multiple perspectives and make better decisions as a result. When leaders can empathize with their team, they create a safe and supportive environment where people feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas.

How can you become the empathetic leader your team needs?

Once you tap into this side of yourself, you'll quickly start seeing a shift in your team's dynamic. Here's how:

  1. Try to put yourself in other people's shoes: This means trying to see things from their perspective, without judgment.

  2. Pay attention to both verbal and nonverbal cues: What are they saying? How are they saying it? What is their body language telling you?

  3. Be present in the moment: This means being fully focused on the other person and what they're saying or doing.

  4. Practice active listening: This means not only hearing what the other person is saying but also trying to understand the meaning behind their words.

Remember, empathy is a skill that takes time and practice to develop. The more you do it, the better you'll become at it.

To scale your business with sustainable systems that succeed, your employees need to feel free to open up and share their thoughts and feelings. You hired each and every person on your team for a reason — that reason being that you see a creative and innovative spark in them that presents itself as an incredible asset to your business.

Why shut down their creative flow before they have the room to flourish? Your business' next big breakthrough could come from the mind of one of your talented team members. Imagine how much impact and income you could miss out on by silencing your team member with a billion-dollar idea they're too afraid to share.

Related: The Future of Leadership is Empathy—And Companies are Better for It

Why empathy is your secret weapon

Empathy is a critical business strategy because it allows you to:

  • Develop deeper relationships with your clients

  • Build trust and rapport

  • Create a safe space for sharing

  • Understand needs and how to best support them

  • Generate new ideas

What is a business without its strong employee-client relationships? If clients can't trust your brand, they're not going to purchase your products or services. That's simply a fact.

Being authentic and showing clients that there's an emotionally intelligent human behind your well-oiled machine helps you fully understand the needs of your target market and create products and services that meet those needs. When you have empathy, you're able to see both the big picture and the smaller details. Soon, you'll be making informed decisions that benefit everyone aligned with your brand.

Start the process to see the impactful results

Maybe you've run a successful operation by being that cold, calculating business person. But what if you're missing out on something phenomenal by not opening yourself up to the power of empathy? Sure, it might be a little out of your comfort zone at first, but that's how growth happens. By stepping outside of what's familiar and exploring new territory, elevation is inevitable.

Empathy is a learned skill that takes time and practice to master. But it's well worth the effort because it will make you an impactful leader, an effective communicator and an enlightened human being.

When you're able to see the world through the eyes of others, you gain a greater understanding of the human experience. And that is a powerful tool that can be used to make a positive impact in the world. The bottom line is that empathy is essential for both personal and professional success. If you want to be an awe-inspiring leader that invites loyalty, you must first master the art of empathy.

Shaan Rais

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

NIL Expert, Branding & Leadership Coach and Strategist

Shaan Rais is an NIL expert, brand strategist & leadership development coach for athletes, celebrities, executives & entrepreneurs. During Covid-19, he was able to build, grow and scale his coaching and consulting firm to multiple 6 figures in less than 90 days, and 7 figures in less than 2 years.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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