3 Things Empathetic Leaders Never Do at Work

Manager walking down the hall with colleagues

Alexander Suhorucov/Pexels

Profile Picture
Laura Berlinsky-Schine2.3k
April 21, 2024 at 12:4PM UTC

Aaron Rodgers, the world-famous Green Bay Packers quarterback, sought to renegotiate shortening his contract, hoping to be traded during the 2021 NFL offseason. The reason? He felt like he was being left out of decision-making and treated like any player — not the superstar that he is.

In his new book, A New Way to Think, Roger L. Martin, a former dean of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management uses Rodgers as one of many examples that demonstrate why employers need to treat talented employees like their special. 

According to Martin, leaders can follow this principle by adopting three tenements:

  • Never dismiss their ideas. 
  • Never block their development.
  • Never pass up a chance to praise them.

1. Never dismiss their ideas.

You may not necessarily agree with every idea a talented employee presents, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have merit. When an employee shares their thoughts with you, listen. Give the suggestion the consideration it deserves. If there are kinks, discuss them with your team member. Look at different angles and alternatives. Think about ways to implement it and what the challenges and obstacles might be. But, above all else, never dismiss it outright.

2. Never block their development.

Naturally, employees want to grow in their careers. As a leader, you must support them. You need to go beyond simply preventing them from growing (perhaps in order to hold onto top talent) — actively give them opportunities to move forward. 

Are they looking for more responsibilities? Think of ways they can play a greater role on your team. Recommend courses and seminars they might take to gain skills that will help them in their careers. Ensure they know about various ways they can advance, and offer opportunities for them to reach that next step. And always, always, push them to succeed.

3. Never pass up a chance to praise them.

Your opinion matters to employees. You may think they’re very talented, but how will they know that if you don’t tell them? 

Always seize the opportunity to commend an employee on a job well done. No matter how small or seemingly insignificant the task is, your words can make a huge difference to an employee who is eager to see that they’re contributing and that their work matters to you and the larger organization.

Strong talent is hard to find — so once you do find it, you must do everything in your power to keep it. That means showing your employees how much you value them. Of course, empathetic leaders want all team members to succeed, so it’s important to avoid playing favorites, while still rewarding excellent employees.


This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.

Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket, and Funny-ish. View her work and get in touch at: www.lauraberlinskyschine.com.

What’s your no. 1 piece of empathy advice for leaders? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss members!

Why women love us:

  • Daily articles on career topics
  • Jobs at companies dedicated to hiring more women
  • Advice and support from an authentic community
  • Events that help you level up in your career
  • Free membership, always