Microsoft's CEO, Satya Nadella, says empathy is 'the hardest skill' to learn

Satya Nadella Microsoft CEO
(Image credit: Microsoft | Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • In an interview this week, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella revealed that empathy is the hardest skill to learn, contrary to belief.
  • He further stated that it was a driving force for workplace career development and an essential element that helps boost the employee performance index.
  • The CEO added that empathy is a driving force for innovation.

Being empathetic means having the capability to understand how other people are feeling emotionally, as well as viewing things from their point of view. While most people might regard this as a soft skill, Microsoft's CEO, Satya Nadella, begs to differ. 

While on an Interview earlier this week with Axel Springer CEO Mathias Dpfner in Berlin, Nadella shared the following sentiments pertaining to the matter:

Empathy is not a soft skill. In fact, it's the hardest skill we learn — to relate to the world, to relate to people that matter the most to us.

As spotted by Business Insider, the CEO revealed how parenting a child with disabilities reshaped his outlook on life. Zain Nadella, who unfortunately passed on at the beginning of last year, suffered from asphyxia in utero, leaving him with cerebral palsy.

If you have empathy for your people, they will do their best work and you'll make progress

Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO

The loss of Satya's son was very difficult, especially for the CEO's wife, Anu, who gave up her architectural career to fully tend to their son's needs, including driving to and fro countless therapy sessions in Seattle. Nadella recounts such moments, further indicating that. "I watched that and came to reflect on it and then realized that nothing happened to me. Something had happened to my son and I started seeing the world through his eyes."

Satya refers to this as a turning point that helped reshape him in all aspects of life. This isn't the first time the CEO has spoken about empathy and its importance. While appearing at an episode of LinkedIn's "Hello Monday" podcast, Nadella outlined the importance of empathy at work and its impact on shaping career development. 

Empathy is a key leadership skill

A study by 2021 Ernst & Young reveals that empathy is a crucial leadership skill, with 90% of employees who took part in the survey citing its positive impact on their performance index, job satisfaction, productivity, and cultivated loyalty. In fact, lack of empathy among organizational executives was among the top reasons employees resigned.

Nadella also believes that empathy is a crucial skill that helps bolster innovation.

Do you think empathy is the key to success for a business? Let us know in the comments.

Kevin Okemwa

Kevin Okemwa is a seasoned tech journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya with lots of experience covering the latest trends and developments in the industry at Windows Central. With a passion for innovation and a keen eye for detail, he has written for leading publications such as OnMSFT, MakeUseOf, and Windows Report, providing insightful analysis and breaking news on everything revolving around the Microsoft ecosystem. You'll also catch him occasionally contributing at iMore about Apple and AI. While AFK and not busy following the ever-emerging trends in tech, you can find him exploring the world or listening to music.