A study involving almost 500 leaders found that the impact on leaders after delivering negative feedback depended on how empathetic the leaders were; high-empathy leaders became less effective, while low-empathy leaders became more effective.


Writing for Harvard Business Review, the study’s authors offer strategies for organizations to support both low and high-empathy leaders better. Key points:
  • Empathetic leaders should be encouraged to take breaks after giving negative feedback.
  • Training should be offered to less-empathetic leaders on delivering feedback more compassionately.
  • The research found empathetic leaders are better at giving negative feedback in a compassionate and helpful way.
  • The more upset the feedback recipients were, the worse high-empathy leaders performed afterwards.
  • Providing negative feedback can be a stressful, energy-depleting experience for empathetic leaders.
  • Less empathetic leaders reported higher energy levels and, in some cases, improved performance after giving negative feedback. For these leaders, giving negative feedback can be an energizing experience.


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