Servant Leadership Mastery – 05 Empathy

Table of Contents

Servant Leadership Mastery

Strategies, Stories, and Stimulus for Leading with Respect Along with Results

Chapter 5.

What Do Team Members Want from Their Leader?


Ravi is known for his strict and rigorous leadership tendencies, all about meeting targets and deadlines and expecting team members to work extended hours and over the weekends to achieve goals. Melanie reported to Ravi. One day, with a family emergency at home, she needed to take a few days off to attend to the needed situation at home and informed her manager.

Ravi, however, refused her request and demanded her back at work to finish the project to respect the deadline and that he would not tolerate any delays caused by her to the project.

Melanie was going through a very difficult time and felt devastated, realizing that Ravi cared more about the project than her well-being. Melanie decided to resign and look for a more supportive workplace, due to her manager’s lack of empathy for her situation.

The story highlights the importance of empathy in the workplace and the lack of causing a toxic work environment, high turnover, and low morale. EMPATHY shows care for the team members and promotes a positive and productive working atmosphere.

Self-serving leaders that show a lack of empathy are seen as only caring about their own interests or goals, and not those of their employees. They are often disrespected because they prioritize their interests over the needs of their team members and the organization as a whole.

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. There are 3 key empathy types:

  1. Cognitive Empathy – By taking the perspective of others, recognizing the feelings and views of others from their point of view, in a logical manner, appreciating what they are going through but not necessarily feeling as they do.
  2. Emotional Empathy – Feeling the emotions others feel, allowing a deeper connection with others on the emotional level, and responding with care and compassion.
  3. Compassionate Empathy – Not only feeling for others on the emotional level but taking action to alleviate someone’s suffering and need.

TIPS: Servant Leadership emphasizes placing the needs of others first and empowering them to achieve their goals. To be effective, one must be willing to connect on a deeper level, thus, leaders with the mindset of serving tend to connect on the emotional and compassionate levels of empathy. By being attuned to the emotions of their team members, servant leaders can demonstrate and foster a caring environment among team members. Those that demonstrate compassionate empathy goes beyond emotions and take action to solve situations, answering the needs and helping others achieve their goals. This could involve removing barriers to success, providing resources, and sharing guidance and support whenever required.

A productive and empowering environment is possible when appropriate levels of empathy are demonstrated creating an optimal setting for teams to thrive, be productive succeed and enjoy working in collaboration bringing vitality to the organization as a whole.


Dr. Maria Pressentin is a Servant Leadership Strategist, a multi-award-winning behavioral scientist, and a leadership development professional, Maria helps people shift their mindset and apply serving-leader skills to their daily interactions. Her work involves incorporating competencies of servant leadership in organizational functional and strategic roles to build long-term vitality in businesses. Her latest book is titled “Key Factors and Use Cases of Servant Leadership Driving Organizational Performance”, IGI Global, 2021.

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