The strongest predictor of ethical leadership behavior out
of all competencies is empathy, according to Management
Research Group (MRG).
MRG has a database of results from 360 Reviews of over
100,000 business leaders from the past 30 years.
MRG has discovered that leaders who scored the highest on
empathy also scored the highest on ethical business
MRG defines empathy as “the identification with and
understanding of another’s situation, feelings, and
According to MRG, empathetic leaders are not only focused
on their own needs and their responsibilities to their
companies, but also are aware of their link to others at
work and in the wider community in which they live. As
such, empathetic leaders integrate their values into their
moral judgments, which help curb exposure to ethical risk.
HR POINTER: If a leader doesn’t have empathy, all the
ethics training in the world will be for naught. If a
leader only thinks “me me me,” he/she will often fail to
make ethical and moral business decisions at critical
This research suggests that if we want to improve ethics
in our organizations, we need to:
*Have leaders model empathy throughout the company.
*Train managers to utilize business-appropriate empathy.
*Create structured interviews for applicants that embed
empathy into situational questions.
*Utilize reference check procedures that require multiple
examples of empathetic leadership.
*Promote and reward employees less for self-promotion and
more for contributions that support and promote others.