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The Key To Modern Leadership? Managing People with Empathy.

The Key To Modern Leadership? Managing People with Empathy.

The workplace is always changing and HR professionals constantly navigate upticks and downturns, new trends, and changing times. It’s hard work, which is why we recently celebrated 26 of The Best People Leaders in 2024

Something the winners all have in common? They approach their work with extreme empathy. And they see incredible results. High retention rates, better talent attraction, and higher ROI on their people investments. 

Taking a cue from these top people leaders, we partnered with our friends at Leviosa, a modern employee wellness platform, to compile 8 ways you can add more empathy and adopt a more modern leadership style. 


8 Modern Leadership Ideas to Manage People with Empathy

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Champion wellness programs

Wellness has been a talking point for HR leaders for quite some time now, but the best modern leadership teams have really great wellness programs. And not just a subscription to a meditation app. The most efficient teams are implementing holistic wellness programs that address a variety of employee needs on a consistent basis. Employees shouldn’t have to wait for a mental health crisis to use an EAP. Everybody is going through stuff every day, and the best teams recognize that and support them with resources. Additionally, one of the biggest factors of employee burnout is their direct manager. So managing people with empathy also means leading by example and making sure you’re not overworking your team or yourself.


Give employees a choice

To be in the office or not be in the office. That is the question that so many leaders are facing. Unfortunately, there’s really no one size fits all solution, because employees are different. The best thing to do is give your employees a choice. If an office environment is the best for them, provide access to office space? If that’s not possible for everyone to come into the office (full-time in office policies are especially hard on working parents, adults who care for elderly parents, and more) then create a policy — and a culture of flexibility — that allows people to work in a way that fits their schedule. They will be happier about their work, less stressed, and more productive. 


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Establish a true sense of team

Whether you’re in an office all the time, sometimes, or never, having a sense of teamwork is critical for managing people. And it goes beyond collaboration. Helping employees build genuine connections with one another helps strengthen the collaboration that’s happening, creates an environment of innovation, and contributes to a sense of belonging (but more on that later). When people feel genuinely connected to their team, they work better together, are happier about what they do, and have a higher engagement rate at work. Ryan McClure, a winner of this year’s Best People Leaders award, was nominated for many reasons, teamwork being one of them. His nominator said, “Ryan excels at building genuine and authentic relationships with both peers and team members. His efforts in organizing team offsites and fostering inclusivity contribute significantly to a sense of belonging within the team. “


Don’t abandon your DEIB plans

Let’s talk more about belonging. Many companies have turned their back on DEIB, but the reality is that more diverse and inclusive workplaces do better. They have higher engagement rates, less turnover, are more innovative, and ultimately more profitable. It’s critical for modern leaders to embrace DEIB and stay committed to the company’s plans. It’s also a clear signal for empathy: enacting DEIB policies and creating a culture of inclusivity and belonging tells everyone that they are seen, heard and valued, and they have a place at the table. And remember belonging isn’t just about race and gender. It’s about bridging generational gaps, creating safe workplaces for LGBTQ+ people, empowering underrepresented workers, and more.


Be honest

People managers always toe the line between too much transparency and not enough communication. At the end of the day, open and honest communication is so important for building trust and fostering a sense of belonging. Be upfront about company goals, challenges, and decisions that affect your team. Modern leadership is all about prioritizing clear, frequent communication that is tailored to the needs of team members. Whether it's through team meetings, one-on-one check-ins, or virtual collaboration tools, keeping the lines of communication open ensures that everyone is on the same page and feels supported. Angie Hemmelgarn, a winner of this year’s Best People Leaders award, was nominated for her open communication: “Angie's inspirational leadership encourages our team to achieve new heights, fostering an empathetic environment. With transparent communication and visionary guidance, she not only defines our path forward but ensures that every team member is heard and valued.”


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Professional Growth

As a leader, it's your responsibility to invest in the growth and development of your team. This means providing opportunities for learning and advancement, as well as recognizing and leveraging individual strengths. By taking an interest in your employees' career aspirations and offering mentorship and guidance, you not only boost morale but also cultivate a culture of continuous learning and improvement. It’s really all about empowering employees to be the best version of themselves. 


Managing people is never easy, and modern leadership is always evolving. But what people want most is empathy from their team and managers. Modern leadership is all about cultivating meaningful relationships and creating a sense of belonging. By leading with empathy, you not only foster a positive work culture but also unlock the full potential of your team. 


About our partners, Leviosa:

leviosaLeviosa is a comprehensive, affordable employee wellness platform. With curated and original content — ranging from fitness, diet and nutrition, meditation, yoga, and stress management, pep talks, improving workplace productivity, kids wellness, all the way to virtual experiences and games — Leviosa helps employees access the kind of wellness benefits they’re looking for when they need them. Offering more variety and more value, Leviosa helps companies offer great benefits and retain their top talent.



Have a great culture you want to share? Parter with Purpose Jobs to share your company's story and attract top talent.