A More Compassionate Leader
Of all the traits that you want to develop as a leader, where does compassion fit in? When we ask participants in our new manager training workshops to list the attributes of great leaders, the most common are: self-awareness, learning agility, communication, and influence. Being a compassionate leader may not be separately listed, but compassion is certainly part of all four foundational aspects of great leadership.
A compassionate leader combines empathy with effective leadership skills. They lead from the head as well as from the heart. They consistently have positive intentions and real concern for others – in both good and bad times.
Recent Research on Compassion
Awakening Compassion at Work by Monica Worline and Jane Dutton was published in 2017. They found that compassion positively impacts innovation, productivity, customer loyalty, employee engagement, employee retention, financial performance, and adaptability to change. They subtitled their book The Quiet Power that Elevates People and Organizations.
Harvard Business Review agrees. 91% of the leaders surveyed say compassion is very important for leadership. Interestingly 80% of those leaders want to raise their compassion but don’t know how. When we assess organizational culture, we find the same thing — employees want more from their leaders.
But leaders report feeling increased stress, frustration, and burnout at work which is undoubtedly affecting their ability to consistently empathize with their workforce. A recent survey of 3,000 HR professionals by BusinessSolver found that 33 percent rated their CEOs as unempathetic, a 16% drop from last year. With employee’s feeling anxious over layoffs and uncertain futures, CEOs must have enough empathy to garner the support required to weather the storm and come out stronger.
Some Tips on How to Enhance Compassion as a Leader
Based upon data form our leadership simulation assessments, we believe that, regardless of title, everyone in an organization has the potential to be a compassionate leader and to develop their ability to practice compassionate leadership. Compassion fuels positive change. If you want to become a more compassionate leader:
The Bottom Line
Does the term “compassion” make you squirm as an old-school leader? If you truly want followers, it’s time to take stock of how you lead. If you handle both good and bad times with compassion, you and your team will be the better for it.
To learn more about being a better leader, download 29 Ways to Build and Maintain Trust as a Leader
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