Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?
—Henry David Thoreau
Empathy and compassion are frequently written about in academic research. As a leader, I normally put these under the broader heading of “caring,” an umbrella term that encompasses caring deeply about one another (empathy and compassion), caring about the mission, and caring about the quality of the collective outcome. I have found that using the word caring plays better in Corporate, as its leaders aren’t yet ready to openly talk about emotions, especially empathy and compassion. Yet in information technology (IT), caring matters, especially caring about one another, because IT is mentally and emotionally demanding. Since the value of an emotionally supportive work environment is poorly understood, frequently it is managed in socially insensitive ways. This in turn cascades into higher levels of stress, sacrifice, and suffering among IT professionals.
Empathy and compassion strengthen the degree of connectedness helping unite an organization. To IT, these are critical. As I’ve noted many times, great IT outcomes are directly related to the degree of social cohesion that individuals, teams, and cross-functional units achieve. Based on my personal experience, empathy and compassion are critical emotional skills that fall high on the list of highly desirable prosocial behaviors, but ...