Leading with Empathy: Why the Sector Needs Compassionate Leaders

5 minutes
Tom Neely

By Tom Neely

It’s an incredibly challenging time for professionals in the UK housing market.

Landlords are being put under pressure by the ‘Make it Right’ campaign led by Michael Gove. ITV journalist Daniel Hewitt and activist Kwajo Tweneboa have created a media spotlight for the industry, uncovering damp and mould issues as well as poor safety measures.

We’re still facing a shortage of skilled tradespeople, compounded by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. So, contractors and in-house DLOs are struggling to attract and hire workers, leading to delays and increased costs.

It’s not been an easy time for the housing market. And with so many senior leaders retiring from the market, our industry needs the next generation to step up.

But navigating this challenging market takes a special kind of leader. A leader with compassion. A leader that exudes empathy.

The Power of Empathy

Empathy is the capacity to internalise and share the feelings of others. This has always been important for leaders, but in today's difficult, stressful UK market - it is taking on a different and more vital role for modern business.

A study by Catalyst found that when people reported their leaders were empathetic, they were more likely to be innovative and engaged.

50% of people with empathetic leaders also reported that their workplace was inclusive, compared with only 17% of those with less empathetic leadership. Additionally, when people felt their leaders were more empathetic, 86% reported they were able to successfully juggle their personal, family and work obligations – which can only encourage a healthy, happy workforce.

When you think about all this, you start to see that empathy is an essential leadership quality. It leads to a higher level of performance from staff, and it’s likely to positively impact retention rates too.

So, how do you find compassionate leaders?

Searching for Compassionate Leaders

Empathic company cultures will naturally attract empathic employees and leaders. So, create an empathetic work environment that attracts the right people. Be a people-first organisation. Invest in corporate social responsibility. Ensure that your employee experience feels inclusive for all.

When it comes to hiring empathetic leaders, actions speak louder than words. So, observe how candidates treat everyone they interact with. During interviews, we like to flip questions from achievements to failures. For example, “Give me an example of when you have failed in the last 12 months and what you have done to dust yourself back up?”.

Candidates who show empathy will often be more willing to take responsibility for their mistakes and acknowledge their actions' impact on others. They may also be more likely to demonstrate a growth mindset, viewing failure as an opportunity to learn and improve rather than a reflection of their worth as a person.

However, your future compassionate leaders don’t have to be external hires. So, retaining and developing existing empathetic employees is just as important as hiring them. That’s why a compassionate working culture is essential to maintaining a sustainable supply of empathetic leaders.

Final Thoughts

It's a challenging time for everyone in the industry, but with the right kind of leadership, we can navigate through these difficulties and come out stronger whilst retaining our highest performers within the sector.

Empathy is a crucial quality that leaders must possess to create a healthy, happy, and high-performing workforce. So, ensure your business is doing all it can to attract, hire, develop and keep people with this essential quality.

I hope this article has been helpful and informative for you.

If you have any further questions or would like to discuss current trends within the UK housing market, please email me at tomneely@neemarsearch.com.

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