Listening and empathy are key components of compassionate leadership, behaviors that come more easily to some than others. If you have spent a long time practicing the traditional style of leadership this can feel like quite a shift. But don’t despair, there are a few simple tips for Compassionate Leadership that you can follow to bring more compassion to your leadership style.
Why Should Leaders Practice Compassion?
Leading for legacy – In ten years’ time, when your employees look back at the time you spent together, how would you like them to remember you as a manager? Most people want to feel like they left a positive impact on their colleagues, and compassion is a great way to make your team members feel valued and important.
Team culture – Modelling compassion means that your team members are likely to adopt a more considerate approach among themselves. A team that gels and communicates with respect brings a certain dynamism and fun to the work.
People want to give back – When you give your time and energy to your people, they are more likely to be invested in your goals and vision. A motivated and aligned team means lower staff turnover, and more productivity and impact.
In a survey of more than 1,000 leaders, 80 percent stated they would like to enhance their compassion – Harvard Business Review
What’s Stopping You?
Lack of time – Myths still exist that listening to people may open up a can of worms and will take precious time out of your already busy day. But if you make listening part of your daily approach, you will be able to tackle problems much earlier, saving you time in the long run.
Aversion to vulnerability – In years gone by, there have been models of leadership that relied on authority, hierarchy, and a more stoic approach. These are proving less effective as the workforce has matured and opened to a more flexible and open way of working. Vulnerability used to be seen as a weakness, but now people are beginning to recognize it as a strength among leaders.
Assumptions – If it isn’t broke don’t fix it, goes the old saying. But do you really know what’s going on with your team? Avoiding assumptions and simply asking your team sincerely how it’s going may unearth some fantastic opportunities for improvement.
Compassion is a behaviour that enhances someone else’s feeling of personal worth. – Bowers and Seashore
How to Get Started
Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t stress. You don’t have to change your entire leadership style overnight. No-one can do everything, but everyone can do something to Compassionate there Leadership .
- Focus on the end goal – The reasons people consciously practice this with their teams include increased team engagement and productivity, or simply doing the right thing.
- Get curious – What’s really happening? It sometimes feels easier to gloss over those awkward pauses, building emotions or growing friction in your team. However, there could be valuable information waiting to be unlocked with a few simple questions.
- Apologise – Perhaps you’ve witnessed some unhelpful behaviours from team members. However, once you explore what’s going on you may discover valid reasons for this. It can mean a lot to your people to acknowledge you could have asked earlier.
- Be pro-active – Don’t wait for your team to come to you with problems. Scheduling dedicated one-on-one time allows the conversation to go deeper than the day-to-day. Focus on what they are saying, but also what’s not being said. Summarise what you heard to show you were listening, and that you understood the point clearly.
- Show gratitude – Specific compliments about what you like about people’s work go a lot further than a simple ‘good job’. Take the time to champion your team outside of your department too. Your team’s reputation will benefit and bolster their confidence.
By building these simple habits, your impact can extend beyond the workplace. People who feel engaged and valued at work enjoy better overall wellbeing. See what small changes you can make today and notice the impact. You’ve got this!