In this day and age I’ve noticed it’s not often that we sit down and sincerely thank someone. So I decided to thank someone who means a lot to me. This person was a major mentor to me in high school and taught me a lot, not just about technology but life. This person was the IT director at my old high school.

This individual in my opinion helped form me into the person I am today. Without him I would not have the technical experience or leadership skills I do. Over the four years (well, three and a half really, thanks COVID) that I was there, I learned a number of technical skills – like working with security camera systems or troubleshooting fiber distribution for the network. But more important than that, I learned a lot of leadership skills – empathy, patience, and listening to name a few. These are skills that you can’t learn through a textbook but something that you simply have to experience and learn from. I was given the ability to experience and learn those skills. It might not have been the most fun thing in the world but it certainly has made me a better person.

This all plays into the idea of empathy in leadership. Being a leader means being empathetic in my opinion. This person was empathetic to not just me but the people he worked with. As an IT director he taught me how to be empathetic to even the users that are annoying. As a youngun in high school, empathy was a bit harder for me to grasp. I think without having him in my life I probably would have a different view of empathy in life. I think empathy in leadership is important for a few reasons but primarily because as a leader you should be able to work well with others on a team. In order to work with people on a team you need empathy. Empathy helps you recognize the individuality in each person and that each person on your team has valid ideas and feelings. Without empathy, you can’t truly recognize the ideas of each person on your team. And that’s why I think empathy in design is important.

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