Coaching is a key tool to help individuals and teams reach peak performance: Defining Empathy

Coaching is a key tool to help individuals and teams reach peak performance. One of the key attributes of a good coach is empathy. I was recently drawn into a discussion about the role of empathy in coaching. Critical to the understanding the role that empathy plays in coaching is understanding the definition of empathy. One of the most difficult parts of the discussion was agreeing on a common definition .

The ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes is critical for a good coach because it helps the coach to accept the coachee on his or her own terms. 

Empathy is useful to:

  • Help to build trust.
  • Build a pathway that enables communication.
  • Disarm the coachee’s self-interest.
  • Facilitate the development of altruism.
  • Encourage bigger picture point of view

Empathy is also a valuable commodity at a team level.  Empathy between team members allows teams to create bonds of trust in a similar manner as between individuals. Without empathy between members, teams will be not be cohesive and will pursue their individual self-interest.