Empathy and Leadership – The Power Duo

As I sat in a packed room a week ago listening to an almost mythical figure, the CEO of Microsoft Satya Nadella, I found myself fully drawn in. Here was a longtime employee of a company long viewed as dominant but perhaps also corporate, bureaucratic, and stiff. Yet here was the CEO of that company, emanating warmth and vulnerability. He felt genuinely concerned and empathetic. I was further surprised then when he began speaking about leadership in terms not so much of vision and strategy, but empathy and sincerity. Little wonder, then, that the company has shifted.

Satya began a book tour after his recent publication of “Hit Refresh,” and made a stop in my town to address a packed room that was celebrating tech leadership. Days later this article appeared, and I was impressed that he remained on point on his tour. Here is one great line from a nice summary article:

Yet, Nadella admits that showing empathy doesn’t always come easily. It must be consciously cultivated and put into practice “Now, the challenge, though, is you can’t just say—I’ll go to work and turn on my empathy…,” he said. “I’m not even claiming that empathy is innate, it is something that needs to be developed…”


In the past year of my life, I’ve also been on a journey of enlightenment around empathy in leadership. It was truly refreshing to hear another espousing some of the feelings on the subject I’ve felt lately.

Categories: Leadership