Enhancing Conscious Empathy in Cross-Cultural Leadership
Weitzel, Bridgette Anna
O’Brien, William J
Globalization, technology, mobility, and immigration have blurred the lines that have historically separated people and cultures. Increasingly, a central issue in global human relations in the twenty-first century is a call for more empathy, individually and collectively. Society looks to political, religious, nongovernmental, and business leaders to model communication that demonstrates greater appreciation, respect, and understanding of others. This study explores how conscious empathy can enhance cross-cultural leadership and serve as a basis for leader development.The first objective of the study is to investigate the enduring themes of empathy across disciplines. A broad review of relevant literature leads to a focus on the representative work of Bernard Lonergan and Otto Rank. Based on the review, I suggest that the essential developmental components of empathy are self-knowledge, consciousness, motivation, a nonjudgmental attitude, and relational listening. The nexus between self-reflexive consciousness and the development of empathy has received little attention in the literature. Thus, the second objective of the study is to explore approaches to developing human consciousness and associated andragogical learning strategies as a means to expand the condition of empathy in cross-cultural contexts. The learning theories of John Dewey, Jean Piaget, Lev Vygotsky, and other constructivists who have followed their lead are emphasized. The two objectives, understanding empathy and enhancing its development, are synthesized into a constructivist learning model that can be used in leadership development and other educational contexts.
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