We have discussed how powerful leaders, including CEO’s, capitalize on whatever their strengths are to make their business boom. (We discussed Rihanna and her IncluderⓇ here, last week.) This week, let’s continue the conversation to discuss the most powerful female CEO on the planet—Oprah Winfrey and her EmpathyⓇ.


Oprah’s ability to emotionally connect with her guests and her audience is her underlying skill at the source of every single one of her successes. EmpathyⓇ undergirds her entire brand!


Most people innately see the value of EmpathyⓇ on the balcony because it is widely revered to care about people. Out of all 34 CliftonStrengthsⓇ, EmpathyⓇ is the one I need to explain the least. So for this week, I will focus less on the balcony and more on helpful pairings and the autonomy of the lesser known basement.


The best part of EmpathyⓇ is having a sixth sense that detects others’ emotions. And, the worst part of Empathy is also having a sixth sense that detects others’ emotions. This talent can not be switched off. It is constant, unforgiving, and myopic—meaning whatever feeling(s) are in the room are absorbed by you, and are now your feelings. So, it’s euphoric when you can enjoy happy moments with others. But, when others are angry, depressed, or frustrated, you feel that, too. And, when you leave that person(s), you are still feeling it. Thus, managing the basement is the greatest challenge of EmpathyⓇ.


The world’s most famous empath has mastered this challenge. Oprah Winfrey reached world-renown success through her ability to emotionally connect to just about anyone and understand where they are coming from. Amazingly, she even showed empathy to KKK members in a way that eventually convinced them to leave the klan. So, how can she prevent negative emotions, like hate from the KKK, from following her home? She employs another one of her strengths—FocusⓇ.


As a child with a tumultuous upbringing, Oprah found solace and escape in a world of books. Even as a child, Oprah’s FocusⓇ empowered her to block out the rest of the world, so she could find nurturing love, kindness, and exploration in a world of her own. Through FocusⓇ + EmpathyⓇ, she could show herself love and growth in ways no adults in her life could at the time.

The struggle of my life created empathy – I could relate to pain, being abandoned, having people not love me. — Oprah Winfrey

Oprah continues to maximize this pairing, most notably in her infamous interview notecards, consistent questions (ex: What do you know for sure?), and her notoriety for never straying too long from those questions. To manage the EmpathyⓇ basement, she has ordered no music or news to ever play around her. She does this because many times negative news and crass music lyrics have impacted her emotions before she needed to be enigmatic on stage. For her to be at her best and most giving to others, she needs to control her emotional environment as best she can. She also isolates herself before big moments, so she can gather her thoughts and feelings purposefully to focus on big moments.


Moreover, she practices her EmpathyⓇ and FocusⓇ constantly throughout the day by emphasizing intent for all of her words, actions, and feelings. Again, this intent focuses her energies on the emotions that she deems worthy and works to block out other unwelcomed ones. Daily transcendental meditation bolsters this awareness, too.


handmaidAnother great EmpathyⓇ pairing is evident in June in The Handmaid’s Tale with BeliefⓇ. (Alert: spoilers!) In the past season, June experienced EmpathyⓇ in the basement via an emotional breakdown due to all of the surrounding hurtful, negative things and feelings. To get out of this dark place, she developed a new purpose to dedicate herself. Similar to Oprah’s intent practice, June empowered herself to look beyond negativity in order to achieve her new mission. As long as she continued to work towards what she deemed right, she could keep going.


Do you have EmpathyⓇ or care for someone with it? How do you use it on the balcony? How do you ward off others’ negative emotions? Share below!


For more information on how empaths are understood outside of the Gallup strengths-iverse, check out this great article from a fellow blogger: https://www.alittlesparkofjoy.com/empath/


Clifton StrengthsFinder® is a registered trademark of Gallup, Inc. The non-Gallup information you are receiving has not been approved and is not sanctioned or endorsed by Gallup® in any way. Opinions, views, and interpretations of Clifton StrengthsFinder® are solely the beliefs of Stronger Not Harder.