Compassionate leadership – a little goes a long way

Compassionate leadership is a relatively new concept. In past times, a compassionate manager would be someone who only docked one week’s wages instead of two when a mistake was made. Thankfully these days are over and compassion is now acknowledged as a key quality in effective leadership, particularly during these unsettling times.

Listen and learn

As we adjust to coming back to the work place after 18 months away, managers need to be aware that everyone’s going to feel differently about it. While some people will be racing back to their desks with gusto, keen to escape the monotony of their own four walls and noisy kids at home, many more will feel wary, anxious and even scared about mixing with people. However your staff are feeling, the best thing you can do is listen to their concerns and show compassion.

To ensure your staff’s wellbeing during the rapidly changing work situation and, as a result, keep them motivated in their work, you need to learn about their fears, stresses, uncertainties, anxieties and exhaustion, and focus on meeting their core needs.

This means paying attention to all of your staff, really listening to them and being present in those conversations. Ask the all important question ‘how can I help you?’. Make sure you genuinely understand the challenges they’re facing and work with them to reach a solution, rather than just nodding in the right places and not actually doing anything about it.

Team players

Being a compassionate leader means recognising that not only is every team member a significant individual, they’re also an essential part of your organisation. By ensuring the happiness and well-being of your staff by supporting them, you’re giving them what they need to work hard, which will reap benefits for the company.

Compassionate leadership isn’t about a box-ticking exercise or a short-term fix. It’s about what’s best for each individual, the team and the company and it considers other factors that may influence or impact the situation at hand.

Nice day at The Office

Compassionate leadership isn’t about acting “nice”. Ricky Gervais’s character David Brent in The Office thought that he was being “nice” by treating everyone the way he wanted to be treated, with constant pranking and impromptu song and dance routines. Instead of finding out and fulfilling his staff’s needs, he alienated them all.

By contrast, compassionate leaders navigate their staff and organisations to sustainable success, both personally and professionally. They treat employees with empathy and humanity and respect the attributes and qualities each person brings to the company.

As Salesforce’s blog Why Compassionate Leadership Matters states: ‘As a business leader, you can’t control the stress that comes from living amid a global pandemic. But you can create stability and relief for your team amid the uncertainties you can’t control.’



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