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10 of the Best Empathetic Leadership Quotes from Real Leaders

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What do employees want from their leaders? What actions can leaders take or words can they say that will inspire, motivate, and engage today’s workforce?

If there’s one thing for sure, it’s that today’s workforce wants empathetic leadership.

In fact, empathy and human connection are more important to employees now than before the pandemic. Those who are especially keen on it are parents, employees who are 18-34 years old, employees with remote/hybrid work arrangements, and employees whose workload or level of work-related stress has increased over the past two years.

Given that these groups make up a significant portion of any workplace, it’s important for everyone from first-time managers to middle management and the c-suite to consider what empathetic leadership means and looks like for them. To help you do so, check out the quotes below from real leaders who are adopting, advocating, and championing empathic leadership in the workplace.


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Empathetic Leadership Quote from Simon Sinek

“Empathy is being concerned about the human being, not just their output.” - Simon Sinek, Author and Motivational Speaker


Empathetic Leadership Quote from Silke Muenster

“The emotional turmoil caused by COVID-19 has resulted in workforce burnout and has prompted us to reflect on and reframe what makes a great leader. Empathy, [which was] once considered a ‘nice to have,’ now needs to be woven into corporate culture. Not all leaders are at ease sharing personal anecdotes or their emotions. But by shifting tone and focus and showing vulnerability, leaders who practice empathy will increase employee engagement, drive inclusion and innovation in the workforce, and foster company loyalty.” - Silke Muenster, Chief Diversity Officer of PMI


Empathetic Leadership Quote from Satya Nadella

“Ideas excite me, empathy grounds and centers me.” - Satya Nadella, CEO and Chairman of Microsoft


Empathetic Leadership Quote from Brené Brown

“Empathy is a choice. It’s a vulnerable choice because in order to connect with you, I have to connect with something in myself that knows that feeling.“ - Brené Brown, Author and Researcher


Empathetic Leadership Quote from John Jacobs

“[The pandemic] has magnified the need for us all to connect as human beings before we connect as co-workers, business partners, etc. We’re social animals. At any level of an organization, if you know your leader and teammates care about you beyond that day’s performance, it’s more fun and fulfilling to serve a shared deeper purpose. Leaders who intentionally build in those extra minutes in meetings to hear people out, offer comfort or advice, and even leave space for laughter and occasional nonsense, are ultimately building a more resilient team.” - John Jacobs, Cofounder and Chief Creative Optimist of Life is Good


Empathetic Leadership Quote from Jacinda Ardern

“One of the criticisms I’ve faced over the years is that I’m not aggressive enough or assertive enough or maybe somehow because I’m empathetic, it means I’m weak. I totally rebel against that. I refuse to believe that you cannot be both compassionate and strong.” - Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand


Empathetic Leadership Quote from James Strock

“In the 21st century, more than ever before, effective leadership is about serving others. The Digital Revolution is transforming a transaction-based world into a relationship-based world. The capacity of individuals and organizations to serve others is greater than ever before. You’re able to create more relationships, and serve more people more effectively in those relationships, than even our recent predecessors could have conceived.” - James Strock, Author and Speaker


Empathetic Leadership Quote from Steve Payne

“Empathy is not only a nice-to-have but the glue and accelerant for business transformation in the next era of business. Empathy’s ability to create a culture of trust and innovation is unmatched, and this previously overlooked trait must be at the forefront of businesses across all industries.” - Steve Payne, Vice-Chair of Consulting, EY Americas


Empathetic Leadership Quote from Alain Bejjani

“The people you are leading have big expectations of you. They want you to be perfect and often forget that you are human. But the more human you are with them, the more trust and empathy they lend to you. They understand you better. That gives you the ability to do so much more, as people give you the benefit of the doubt.” - Alain Bejjani, CEO of Majid Al Futtaim Group


Empathetic Leadership Quote from Daniel Lubetzky

“If you're asking how to create a more empathetic workplace, you're already way ahead of everybody else.” - Daniel Lubetzky, Founder of KIND

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