The signs of a leadership empathy deficit in any or all of these varieties can best be detected by how a leader’s actions impact those he or she leads. Some of the common signs:
1. Directives or memos that make no sense to those receiving them are a sign that a boss does not understand how employees think about their world, and fails to tune in to the language that would make most sense to them. Another sign of low cognitive empathy: strategies, plans or goals that make little sense or seem off-point to those who are to execute them.
2. Communiques or, worse, commands, that upset those receiving them. This signifies a boss who does accurately read the emotional reality of employees, and so seems clueless to those receiving them.
3. Expressing attitudes that seem cold or just out-of-touch with the issues employees struggle with signifies a lack of empathic concern. Feeling your boss doesn’t care puts employees on the defensive, where they are afraid to take risks like innovating.
Daniel GolemanAuthor of FOCUS: The Hidden Driver of Excellence