Empathy is a life skill that is necessary for any successful human being. We model it for our children and nurture our relationships through having the ability to see the perspective of others. We place ourselves in someone else’s shoes to understand. As a leader, I watch for signs of anxiety and strive to see how certain tasks or situations are difficult for some and not for others, so I can provide the proper supports.
Here’s the thing though. There is such a thing as being overly empathetic. And overly empathetic leads to enabling, which in turn leads to stagnation or lack of growth. Balancing this out as an administrator is a tough task. Principals want their staff, parents, and students to be happy, but we also need to push people out of their comfort zones so we can see the magic happen!
Truth is, empathy can be a leader’s greatest strength and equally their greatest weakness. I believe the heart of leadership is to be strong enough to continue to be empathetic, but wise enough to make the tough decisions when an individual or situation is pulling on our heartstrings.
Some principals perhaps, may not struggle with this balance and their growth lies elsewhere. We all have strengths and weaknesses. For me, I find this area one of the most challenging aspects of my job. Luckily, with each day and each situation that presents itself my ability to find the balance and help move the school community forward strengthens. Each day I’m a little wiser and a little better than the day before. : )