The Empathetic Leaders: Why Women Excel in Sympathy, Empathy, and Meeting People Where They Are.

Dec 26, 2023 | Leadership

Leadership is an art, a skill, and a responsibility that transcends gender. However, a growing body of evidence suggests that women excel in leadership roles due to their exceptional qualities, notably their sympathy, empathy, and ability to meet people where they are. This article will delve into women’s strengths as leaders, emphasizing their unique capacity for understanding, compassion, and tackling challenges head-on.

Sympathy: Understanding the Problem first.

Sympathy in leadership is the ability to recognize and understand the problem that causes the feelings and emotions of others. While both men and women possess this quality, women often exhibit a higher degree of sympathy, which can be a crucial asset in leadership. A sympathetic female leader can relate to the struggles and challenges their team members face on a personal level. They do this by recognizing the problem and showing sympathy – not to the person but to the problem. This simple understanding of the problem and the recognition of it fosters trust and solidarity within the team.

Women’s sympathetic nature allows them to connect with their team members by acknowledging their problems and feelings before offering support. This boosts morale and strengthens the leader’s relationship with their team. An empathetic leader can inspire their team to work harder, knowing their leader genuinely cares about their well-being.

Empathy: Walking in Others’ Shoes

Empathy is about the person, not the problem. It involves putting oneself in another person’s shoes and understanding their perspective and emotions. Women often excel in empathy, making them highly effective leaders. Empathetic leaders have the remarkable ability to see issues from various angles and consider the impact of their decisions on all stakeholders.

An empathetic leader understands that each team member is a unique individual with their own experiences and challenges. This understanding promotes inclusivity within the workplace, fostering a culture where everyone’s voices are seen, heard, and valued. Empathetic leaders are more likely to create an environment where team members feel safe and supported, leading to increased creativity, innovation, and job satisfaction.

Meeting People Where They Are: A Sensible Approach

Effective leadership is not just about understanding emotions; it’s also about taking action to address problems and challenges. Female leaders are known for their sensible approach to problem-solving, which often involves meeting problems where they are rather than avoiding or deflecting them.

When confronted with a challenge, female leaders are more inclined to tackle it head-on by shining a light into the heart of those affected, thus viewing it as an opportunity for growth and improvement. This approach encourages a culture of transparency, accountability, and continuous improvement within the organization. Best of all, it empowers the team to solve problems independently. This means they are encouraged to seek critical thinking, emotional rationale, and permission to be more nurturing in the times ahead. It also demonstrates to the team that the leader is not afraid to face adversity and is willing to work collaboratively to find solutions.

Case Studies: Women Leaders Who Excel

To highlight the power of women as empathetic leaders who meet problems head-on, let’s explore a few notable case studies:

  1. Angela Merkel: The former Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, is renowned for her pragmatic leadership style. Throughout her tenure, she demonstrated empathy for the German people’s concerns while making tough decisions in the face of the economic and refugee crisis. Her approach to problem-solving, rooted in understanding and pragmatism, earned her global respect.
  2. Jacinda Ardern: New Zealand’s prime minister is celebrated for her compassionate leadership, particularly during times of crisis. She effectively managed the response to the Christchurch Mosque shootings and the COVID-19 pandemic by demonstrating empathy and meeting the problems head-on with clear communication and decisive action.
  3. Mary Barra: As the CEO of General Motors, Mary Barra has shown the world that women can excel in traditionally male-dominated industries. She has led the company through challenging times, embracing technological changes and environmental concerns with a forward-thinking and empathetic approach.


Women have repeatedly proven that they possess unique qualities that make them exceptional leaders. Their sympathy, empathy, and ability to empower people by meeting them where they are are invaluable in today’s complex and rapidly changing world. These qualities foster trust, inclusivity, and a culture of collaboration within organizations, ultimately leading to enhanced performance and success.

Leadership is not determined by gender but by individual qualities and skills. Recognizing and celebrating women’s strengths as leaders is not about gender bias but embracing inclusion and harnessing the full potential of all individuals to drive positive change in our organizations and society. Women leaders exemplify the power of empathy, compassion, and pragmatic problem-solving, making them great leaders in their own right.


This article is the first of many designed to reveal the findings of my newest academic study: Here Come the Girls. It is a doctoral paper set to be published next month. The commercial book will be released this spring.

Watch out, world; I have women taking over global leadership between 2028 and 2032.

Buckle up!


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