Unit 1: Leadership skills required for safeguarding


1.16 Empathy

Another key word associated with the leadership style being explored here is ‘empathy’ and its potential contribution to improving the safety and wellbeing of beneficiaries by improving the safety and wellbeing of staff.

Workers in the development sector may witness many traumatic things and the safeguarding issues we are focusing on here can certainly be extremely difficult and emotional. Abuse of children or sexual aggression to adults is always disturbing and, in some cases, will be truly shocking. This is perhaps amplified by the fact that harm has been perpetrated by representatives if not colleagues in the agency they represent. What responses do such workers deserve? What support do they get?

In fact, the value of empathy in management and leadership is being highlighted in the wider organisational and business world. The following article concludes that:

“Empathy contributes to positive relationships and organizational cultures, and it also drives results. Empathy may not be a brand-new skill, but it has a new level of importance, and the fresh research makes it especially clear how empathy is the leadership competency to develop and demonstrate now and in the future of work.”

Read (or listen to) the whole of this brief article Empathy is the most important leadership skill according to research.

Why is an emphasis on empathy particularly congruent with leaders working to enable a safeguarding culture in their organisations?