"Leadership is about empathy. It is about having the ability to relate to and connect with people for the purpose of inspiring and empowering their lives."
"Empathy is the very means by which we create social life and advance civilization."
"In this time of economic hardship, political instability, and rapid technological change, empathy is the one quality we most need if we're going to survive and flourish in the 21st century."
"We have to have a revolution so that all young people grasp empathy and practice it. This is the most fundamental revolution that we need to get through."
WHY WE NEED EMPATHY
The world is changing faster than ever before. To keep up--and to succeed--we need to change, too. We need to master empathy.
“The ability to understand what someone is feeling” – that’s the textbook definition of empathy. But when put into practice, empathy means a whole lot more. It means the ability to grasp the many sides of today’s complex problems and the capacity to collaborate with others to solve them; it means being as good at listening to the ideas of others as articulating your own; it means being able to lead a team one day, and participate as a team member the next.
This is such a different world from generations past. Change is constant. Problems are global. Information is at our fingertips. In the era of Wikipedia, does it really matter how much you can memorize? What’s more important is that you can take the perspective of others – whether you’re designing a new technology, or negotiating, or anticipating the uncertain. Indeed, how well we do -- whether in the classroom or the boardroom -- depends more than ever on how well we forge and navigate relationships. In this way, empathy is the new literacy: essential for us to communicate, collaborate, and lead.
Empathy also gives us the will and the tools to be effective changemakers for the good. It motivates us to imagine and then build something better together. But is also ensures we build well: informed by a deep understanding and respect for others, working collaboratively across disciplinary boundaries, and creatively addressing problems at their root. If we want a society of changemakers, where problems no longer outrun solutions, then we have to prioritize empathy because changemaking is essentially empathy in action.
Below you’ll find insights into why we think empathy matters, and we encourage you to share your own, too.