Maria Ross: The Empathy Edge – Unleashing the Power of Connection for Radical Success


In a world often dominated by headlines of power struggles and divisive leadership, Maria Ross stands as a beacon of hope, advocating for a superpower that transcends boundaries and fosters success on a radical scale – empathy. In an exclusive interview, Maria Ross shared her journey of discovery and how this superpower, often underestimated, holds the key to transforming leaders, cultures, and brands.

Ross’s revelation came at a pivotal moment in her life, reading books about empathy to her 2-and-a-half-year-old son. As she looked up at the world around her, she couldn’t help but notice the stark contrast between the lessons she was teaching her son and the harsh realities of leadership in society. This dissonance fueled a deep emotional response, a mix of heartbreak and frustration, prompting Ross to question the efficacy of these lessons in a world seemingly devoid of empathy.

“It was a moment of realization and anger,” Ross shared. “I couldn’t accept that our society’s role models portrayed in the media were failing to embody the values I was trying to instill in him.”

Determined to bridge this gap, Ross, a seasoned brand strategist, embarked on a mission to uncover leaders and organizations that understood the transformative power of compassion and empathy. Three years of intensive research led her to a wealth of examples, data, and studies, all pointing to one irrefutable truth – empathy is a driving force behind business success.

The culmination of her findings took shape in a book designed to convince skeptics of the business case for empathy, The Empathy Edge. Ross shattered common misconceptions, asserting that empathy is not about being weak, giving in to unreasonable demands, or merely agreeing with others. Instead, she defined empathy as a method of information gathering and perspective-taking, a powerful tool for moving forward collectively, even in the face of tough decisions.

With a pivot in her work, Ross has since dedicated herself to imparting this invaluable skill to leaders at all levels. Through leadership trainings, keynotes, workshops, books, podcasts, and a TEDx talk, she strives to show C-suite executives, HR professionals, team leaders, and individuals alike how to harness the power of empathy for strategic advantage.

Ross addresses common misconceptions head-on during her talks, debunking the myth that empathy is a soft skill. “Empathy not only impacts the bottom line; it requires great strength,” she asserted. She dismantles the binary thinking that one can only be empathetic or high-performing, compassionate or competitive. In fact, Ross insists that it’s not an either-or scenario; it’s both.

The heart of Ross’s message lies in the transformation of leadership paradigms. She advocates for a new model – one that is empathetic, human-centered, and effective. According to Ross, empathy has been recognized as the number one skill for effective leadership in the 21st century. In a world grappling with complex problems, the ability to solve them together is paramount.

Ross warns that organizations and leaders clinging to outdated models of leadership, characterized by command and control, risk being left behind. The future belongs to those who embrace empathy as a strategic advantage, recognizing its capacity to boost innovation, performance, collaboration, and customer loyalty.

As Ross concludes, “Empathy is not just a skill; it’s a mindset, a way of approaching challenges, and a catalyst for radical success. Those who understand its transformative power will be the leaders shaping the future.” In a world hungry for connection and understanding, Maria Ross’s advocacy for the empathy edge is a timely and compelling call to action.