Telling Stories to Develop Empathy: An Experiential Exercise for Future Leaders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Empathy is often defined as the ability to comprehend another person’s feelings and to re-experience them oneself. Although it has commonly been recognized as an essential leadership skill, its teaching and development have not received a lot of attention in the leadership literature. This article presents the Global Citizen Story (GCS), an experiential exercise aimed at developing leaders’ empathetic skills in cross-cultural settings. The exercise, which requires that students write and tell a fictitious story in the first person, consists of four stages: researching, imagining, writing, and telling the story. The exercise allows students to empathize with a person from another culture who is facing a serious challenge. It targets the empathetic skills of both the students telling the stories and those listening to the stories. Although the exercise was created in the context of a global business MBA course, it can be adapted to any course (graduate and undergraduate) focusing on developing empathy as an essential leadership skill.
Original languageAmerican English
JournalJournal of Leadership, Accountability and Ethics
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • Leadership
  • Empathy
  • Empathetic Skills
  • Cross-cultural leadership


  • Business
  • Education

Cite this