Bruce’s View: Build a culture of empathy

February 11, 2016 -  By
Bruce Wilson

Bruce Wilson

You’ve probably heard the quote, often attributed to Theodore Roosevelt: “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
Empathy improves relationships. The ability to detect what others feel and experience has many upsides.

“Learn to crawl behind the eyes of the customer” is a commandment I’ve used for many years when discussing how to serve our clients better. Substitute the words employee, constituent, associate, supplier, friend or colleague for the word customer and the results are the same: a strong relationship grounded in understanding.

Empathy can be a powerful tool in communicating with employees and in building a desirable company culture. Many owners want the same things in their companies. The difference is in how they get there.

Understanding what drives employees and customers requires careful listening. Employees will never care as much about your company as you do. But they do care about many of the same things you do, though maybe not for the same reasons. Good leaders succeed by marrying their own emotions and values with those of their employees and customers.

Building a culture of empathy starts with leaders making it a core behavior. It’s not easy “letting go” and putting others’ needs first. But when CEOs use their capacity for compassion and understanding, they gain a competitive advantage thanks to increased innovation and productivity.

This article is tagged with , and posted in Expert Insights, February 2016

About the Author:

The author, of the Wilson-Oyler Group, is a 30-year industry veteran. Reach him at

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