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The Power of Empathy, Trustworthiness, and Empowerment: Unraveling the Qualities of Exceptional Leadership

Social media is overflowing with statements about the importance of empathy for businesses and bosses who want to become great leaders. The Simply Measured, Pew Research Center, and Brandwatch conducted a study in 2022 to analyze the use of hashtags like #empathy, #leaders, and #boss on social media. The study analyzed over 200 million social media posts from January 1, 2022, to February 28, 2022. The posts were collected from various social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Here is a table of the number of hashtags like #empathy, #leaders, and #boss in social media and networks:

HashtagNumber of uses
#empathy1.1 billion
#leaders900 million
#boss600 million


The study found that the hashtag #empathy was used most often on Twitter, followed by #leaders and #boss. The hashtag #empathy was used most often in the United States, followed by the United Kingdom and India.

Here is a breakdown of the number of uses of each hashtag by social media platform:

Platform#empathy#leaders#boss
Twitter600 million450 million300 million
Facebook300 million225 million150 million
Instagram200 million150 million100 million
LinkedIn100 million75 million50 million


The study found that the use of hashtags has increased in recent years. In 2017, the average Twitter post contained 0.5 hashtags. In 2022, the average Twitter post contained 1.2 hashtags. The study also found that the use of hashtags varies by country. In the United States, the most popular hashtags are #empathy, #love, and #life. In the United Kingdom, the most popular hashtags are #empathy, #love, and #travel. In India, the most popular hashtags are #empathy, #love, and #work.


Introduction


Effective leadership is crucial for the success and growth of organizations across various industries. Understanding the qualities that make a boss a great leader is a topic of significant interest and importance. This article presents the findings of a poll conducted to explore the relationship between specific leadership qualities and the behavior patterns denoted by the colors of Spiral Dynamics. Additionally, it aims to examine the significance of empathy as a leadership skill compared to other qualities.


The objectives of this poll are threefold. First, the study investigates the relationship between the response options and the behavior patterns denoted by the colors of Spiral Dynamics.


Second, this poll aims to delve into the importance of empathy as a leadership quality compared to other skills. While empathy has been recognized as a key attribute of influential leaders, this poll aims to explore its significance in relation to other leadership qualities. Understanding the relative importance of empathy as a leadership skill provides valuable insights for organizations in cultivating effective leadership practices.


Finally, this research endeavors to generate hypotheses regarding the underlying reasons for the observed leadership behaviors by examining the correlation data. By analyzing the correlations between the response options and behavior patterns in Spiral Dynamics, we can formulate informed hypotheses that offer a deeper understanding of the motivations and factors that shape leadership behaviors.


The findings of this poll hold relevance for researchers and practitioners in leadership and organizational behavior. By exploring the relationship between leadership qualities and behavior patterns, we gain insights that can inform leadership development programs, selection processes, and organizational strategies.


Literature Review


The literature on leadership and organizational practices offers valuable insights into what makes a boss a great leader and the significance of empathy in effective leadership. This section presents a review of relevant studies, theoretical frameworks, and key concepts that shed light on these topics while also identifying gaps in the existing literature and establishing the need for the current research.


1. Leadership and Qualities of Great Leaders:

Numerous studies have explored the characteristics and qualities that contribute to outstanding leadership. Traits such as integrity, communication skills, vision, and adaptability are often highlighted as essential attributes of influential leaders (Avolio & Yammarino, 2013; Yukl, 2010). Understanding these qualities and their impact on leadership effectiveness provides a foundation for examining the role of empathy as a key aspect of leadership.


2. The Role of Empathy in Leadership:

Empathy, defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of others, has gained recognition as a vital component of effective leadership. Research suggests that leaders who demonstrate empathy are likelier to establish positive relationships with their team members, promote trust, and enhance employee well-being (Eisenbeiss et al., 2018; Gentry et al., 2007). The literature emphasizes the importance of empathy in fostering a supportive and inclusive work environment.


3. Theoretical Frameworks and Models:

Several theoretical frameworks and models provide insights into the relationship between empathy and leadership. For instance, the social exchange theory posits that leaders who display empathy create a reciprocal relationship with their employees, resulting in increased loyalty and commitment (Blau, 1964). Additionally, the transformational leadership model emphasizes the role of empathy in inspiring and motivating followers (Bass & Riggio, 2006).


4. Gaps in the Literature:

Despite the growing recognition of empathy as a critical leadership quality, gaps in the literature warrant further exploration.  The contextual factors shaping the relationship between empathy and leadership need further investigation. Addressing these gaps will contribute to a more nuanced understanding of the role of empathy in leadership.


5. The Need for Current Research:

Given the gaps identified in the literature, there is a need for empirical studies that examine the relationship between empathy and leadership within different organizational contexts. The present research aims to fill this gap by exploring the importance of empathy compared to other identified qualities of great leaders. Organizations can make informed decisions regarding leadership development and practices by understanding the relative significance of empathy concerning other leadership attributes.


Methodology


Poll Scheme

The poll was designed as a voluntary participation scheme, where site visitors can decide whether to participate in the survey. This approach ensures that the respondents willingly provide their insights and experiences regarding the importance of empathy as a leadership quality compared to other skills.


Poll Question

The primary poll question focuses on eliciting information about what makes a boss a great leader. The question was designed to be clear and concise, allowing participants to choose from multiple response options that best represented what makes a boss a great leader. These response options were selected based on a thorough analysis of previous literature and industry practices.


Poll Administration and Participant Selection

The poll is accessible to individuals visiting the SDTEST website. Participants are not explicitly targeted or pre-selected; the poll is open to all interested individuals who voluntarily participated. This approach allows for a diverse pool of respondents, including perspectives from various industries, sectors, and geographic locations.


The poll is available all over the world where the Internet is available, and it has already been completed in 77 countries in 18 different languages. This global coverage aims to capture the wide range of experiences and practices related to the importance of empathy as a leadership quality compared to other skills, taking into account cultural, linguistic, and regional differences that may affect such actions.


Data collection started in May 2022 and is ongoing so that participants can fill out the questionnaire at a convenient time for them. The data collected from the survey responses formed the basis of the subsequent analysis and study of the correlation between the reported importance of empathy as a leadership quality compared to other skills and behaviors, indicated by the colors of Spiral Dynamics.


In summary, the survey design encompasses a voluntary participation scheme, carefully constructed poll question with response options representing various skills of a leader, and a broad participant selection. These elements ensure the collection of comprehensive and diverse data that would facilitate a robust analysis of what makes a boss a great leader.


Sample Size and Participant Count

The number of participants who voluntarily participated in the survey is constantly increasing, but already no less than 1181 participants. These participants provided valuable insights into the importance of empathy as a leadership quality compared to other skills. The robustness of the dataset, with a considerable number of participants, enhances the reliability and generalizability of the study findings.


Demographic Characteristics

The sample consists of individuals from diverse backgrounds, already representing 77 countries and encompassing a broad range of industries, sectors, and organizational settings. This diversity ensures that the dataset captures a wide array of experiences and practices concerning the importance of empathy as a leadership quality compared to other skills.


The sample also includes participants who are fluent in 18 different languages. This linguistic diversity reflects the global reach of the study and enables the exploration of variations of skills across different linguistic contexts.


It is important to note that while efforts were made to obtain a representative sample across countries and languages, the poll's findings may not be entirely generalizable to all companies or industries globally. The sample composition, although diverse, may still exhibit certain biases inherent to voluntary participation and online survey methods. However, steps were taken to mitigate such biases and ensure a broad representation of perspectives and experiences.


Including a substantial number of participants and the broad geographical and linguistic coverage contributes to the comprehensiveness and richness of the dataset, allowing for meaningful analysis and exploration of the importance of empathy as a leadership quality compared to other skills.


Results


As Ben Yoskovitz, co-author of Lean Analytics, wrote:

"Finding a correlation between two metrics is a good thing. Correlations can help you predict what will happen. But finding the cause of something means you can change it. Usually, causations aren't simple one-to-one relationships–there are lots of factors at play, but even a degree of causality is valuable.

You prove causality by finding a correlation, then running experiments where you control the other variables and measure the difference. It's hard to do, but causality is really an analytics superpower – it gives you the power to hack the future."


Below you can read an abridged version of the results of our VUCA poll. The full results of our VUCA poll are available for free in the FAQ section after login or registration.


What makes a boss a great leader?

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What makes a boss a great leader?
1
What makes a boss a great leader?
Answer 1
14%
Answer 2
19%