• Avidity International

Are you an Empathetic Leader?

Updated: Feb 18

The CEMS Leadership in a Post-Covid-19 World report found that COVID-19 has resulted in a major change to the way managers perceive leadership. Hard skills such as language knowledge, software proficiency, were perceived as most important previously, but now human attributes and competencies have gained greater value of importance since the pandemic. The most notable change is the clear increase in the importance of empathy and a drop in technical skills.


Our Managing Director, Mr. Alex Tan, had the opportunity to talk with Finaswani Mohamed Zin, who is the Head of Public Affairs, Communications and Sustainability for Coca-Cola Malaysia & Singapore, on the topic of empathy and leadership in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The insightful interview brought into light many relevant issues such as the meaning of being an empathetic leader, the misconceptions about the relationship between these two, the concept of resilience during difficult times, and many more. There were various lessons that were communicated through this interview that are beneficial not only to those in leadership positions, but also to those who aim to become leaders in the future.


At the start of the interview, Finas, as she would call herself, shared with us on her personal views of being an empathetic leader. When empathy is mentioned in a leadership position, she found that many people become sceptical as this attribute is often associated as weakness. As the only female leader with the leadership team, Finas spoke about the need for achieving balance between driving businesses and looking after employees. She says that it is vital for all leaders to not only think about themselves, but to also put themselves in their employees’ shoes. As leaders, they have to realise that they need to take the time to understand what is happening in their employees’ lives and to be aware of their needs as well as to stay connected with them.


This is crucial because as mentioned by Finas, “People are at the heart of what you do.” If employees in an organisation are not taken care of by the leaders, it will become impossible for the organisation to reach greater heights and achieve better results. Without the employees, an organisation will be able to perform at its maximum capacity.

Speaking of the importance of communication, she added, “It’s okay to over-communicate”, as she has always believed in this time of uncertainties, over-communicating is very much needed for everyone as it will help them to feel at ease and it’s very important the leaders do that.



“Empathy is not bad as a leader” – Finaswani Zin

Finas also shared her thoughts on the importance of resilience during these trying times. According to her, resilience is not something that we can gain in an instant, but it is something that is built over time by all those who aspire to attain it and it requires consistent effort. These efforts translate to more than just physical actions; it also involves having the right mindset. In order to build resilience within ourselves, a positive mindset, a firm belief in hope, and a never-give-up attitude are essential as they help us to view the present difficulties as tests on who we really are. Finas later explained that to build resilience is to accept any situation as it is and to process our thoughts in a way that avoids us from wallowing in negativity, and to embrace this test positively. She then ended the conversation with a message for all Malaysians saying, “Don’t lose hope and never give up and try all avenues for you to actually explore the world.





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