Empathy In School Leadership

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Hanna Beech

Hanna Beech has been teaching for ten years and has a range of experience across Key Stages 1 and 2 in a large Primary School in Kent. She is a phase leader for Years 3 and 4, and also leads on teaching and learning for...
Read more about Hanna Beech

Could leading with empathy improve your team’s outcomes?

If leaders show empathy towards their staff, this is likely to raise moral, develop trust and improve standards.

Try these tips to develop empathy as a leader.

1. Know your team

Knowing your team on a professional and personal level will help you understand them as an individual.

2. Know their goals

Asking questions to staff about what they are working towards will help you to understand their goals.

3. Show interest in their success

Be interested in your teams’ successes and strengths, as well as their areas for development.

4. Offer support

Asking ‘How can I help?’ shows that you want to support staff towards their goals, whether it be through coaching, mentoring or CPD opportunities.

5. Check in

Asking staff how they are can easily be forgotten. Remember to ‘check-in’ with individuals.

6. Foster an environment of two-way openness and honesty

Teams who feel they can offer feedback to their leaders are more likely to accept feedback from their leaders.

7. Abolish grading your staff

This destroys moral and pushes focus towards a grading as opposed to developmental feedback.

8. Act

If you notice something isn’t right with a colleague, act on this by making the time to find out what is going on and acting accordingly. Maybe they need some extra time or support that can easily be arranged.

Why this works

Showing empathy can help you keep you connected with your team, creating a team who value and support you in return. To develop a deeper understanding about empathy, read about Daniel Goleman’s three types of empathy: cognitive empathy, social empathy and empathetic concern.

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