5min read

Leading with empathy in the pandemic

Female political leaders across the world have been admired for their responses to the Covid-19 pandemic.


随着共同19的大流行的发展,世界各地的女性政治领导人因其清晰的沟通,速度,果断和同情行动而受到好评。他们带领大小的国家,富裕,贫穷,陆锁和沿海地区。从德国的总理安吉拉·默克尔(Angela Merkel)到辛特·马丁(Sint Maarten)的总理雅各布(Silveria Jacobs)(加勒比海的一个小岛,人口仅为41,500,只有两张ICU床),妇女表现出了低死亡人数和高批准等级的出色领导。

Angela Merkel

在Taiwan, an early decision by President Tsai Ing-wen to screen all passengers from Wuhan as early as December 31stand to implement 124 measures (that excluded a full lockdown) in early January resulted, to date, in only 443 cases and 7 deaths人口2300万。在由约翰霍普金斯大学早期的模型versity,由于其紧密联系和靠近中国

在新西兰,总理贾辛达·阿尔德恩(Jacinda Ardern)宣布为高级政府领导人削减了六个月的长达20%的薪水,以认识到她严格的锁定措施对新西兰人的影响。挪威总理埃纳·索尔伯格(Erna Solberg)举行了一个前所未有的新闻发布会,向她的国家的孩子们讲话,不允许成年人回答孩子的问题,并向他们解释为什么在爆发期间感到害怕。


Nevertheless, the business world is replete with examples of this ‘think crisis–think female’ bias, which can lead to the glass cliff phenomenon, the tendency for women to be more likely promoted to positions of leadership when firms are struggling or in crisis。例如,想想,安妮·穆尔卡希(Anne Mulcahy)于2001年成为施乐公司的首席执行官,当时该公司处于破产的边缘,而玛丽·巴拉(Mary Barra)则是普通汽车公司(Mary Barra),他们在2014年1月任命为首席执行官后立即面临大规模召回点火开关缺陷,造成124例死亡和275次伤害。

Given this connection with crisis, we believe that understanding how female leaders approach these challenging times might be helpful for other leaders during the Covid-19 pandemic.

So, what helps female leaders navigate crisis so effectively? In our conversations with female leaders – through our research as well as two virtual forums with alumnae of theWomen Transforming Leadership Programme– we find that empathy, the ability to understand and re-experience the feelings of others, encapsulates the insights we learned about how female leaders are successfully leading through the pandemic.


First, empathy requires one to sense the emotion of others. Lockdowns, social distancing, and virtual offices may make the suffering of others abstract and remote. To overcome the challenge of virtual communication, leaders need to be more explicit – asking questions and listening attentively, which involves not only paying attention to what is said, but also allowing silence for others to reflect. Moreover, lockdowns, social distancing, and virtual offices have blurred the line between personal and professional lives. Leaders need to be more attuned to the personal aspects of their team members’ lives. They need to go deeper into the territory of the personal, crossing into the realm of the private by intentionally reaching out to individuals to understand their context, show concern and offer support.

Second, an empathetic response requires empathy to oneself. One of the key insights of our forums is that, even though empathy usually refers to “empathy towards others”, an empathetic response in time of crisis starts with empathy towards oneself. Leaders can achieve empathy to self through gratitude. Research shows that that gratitude reduces stress and anxiety, increases happiness and well-being, and fosters emotional resilience. By focusing on the small things for which they are thankful in their lives, leaders can tap into a source of positive emotions that furthers their ability to handle the crisis. Moreover, gratitude buffers stress and its negative effects on empathy.神经影像学研究表明that stress enhances the emotional aspect of empathy (feeling the emotion of others) but deteriorates its cognitive aspect (allowing us to process complex information about others ‘context and tailor our emotional responses appropriately). By being grateful for positive aspects of their own situations, leaders can safeguard from the burnout and biased decision-making that can result from stress and ensure that their empathetic response to others will be appropriate.

Finally, empathy with self and others might help organisations survive during the crisis through the creation of novel solutions and ideas. By showing empathy to self and others, leaders can let go of prior expectations, pressures and assumptions and encourage generative ideas to emerge. Positive psychology studies suggest that positive emotions allow individuals to broaden their horizons and build new resources, promoting discovery of new resources, ideas, and actions。神经影像学研究表明,同情心激活与学习和决策相关的大脑区域。Moreover, research on the effect of leaders’ emotional intelligence shows that leaders’ empathy towards their teams encourages team creativity.


Andromachi Athanasopoulou,Kathryn Bishop,Sue Dopson和Michael Smets为这篇文章做出了贡献。

Most popular