As the year winds down and I talk to leaders about their key learnings in the last year, a key theme that I hear is “Compassion”. For almost the first time, I am hearing most leaders talk about the need for compassion in the way they treat themselves, their teams and their customers. I see this as a big shift in leadership thinking! Many leaders are beginning to realize that just chasing and achieving audacious goals is not enough. The suddenness of the pandemic, remote working and business challenges has pushed leaders to re-think how they lead.
Till recently, most of us believed that leadership required us to be just hard driving and results focused. Compassion was considered a “weakness” that came in the way of success. Not anymore! Today we are at the cusp of change in the way we lead, as more and more leaders realize that compassion is critical to their and their companies long term success.
So, what do leaders mean when they see “Compassion” as a leadership value?
Understanding & Empathy
At work, leaders show understanding and empathy by being respectful of their teams and co-workers. Showing our teams that we care and are not just enforcing rules and regulations. Creating an understanding workplace helps build trust within teams and supports camaraderie. An empathic leadership style can make everyone feel like a team and increase productivity, morale and loyalty. Understanding and empathy are powerful tools in the leadership belt of a respected leader.
Understanding and empathy are not just “touchy, feely” stuff! In reality it means-
- Watching for signs of overwork and burnout and stepping in to help
- Showing sincere interest in the needs, hopes and dreams of your team
- Practicing patience
- Avoiding making assumptions
Asking people to be kind in the workplace, sometimes feels strange. But the reality is that kindness creates a ripple effect. It impacts the general level of positivity, boosts our team’s mood and it’s contagious. The best part? It encourages people to ‘pay it forward’.
Kindness does not mean creating an unproductive or ineffective workplace. Practically it means-
- Saying Thank You and meaning it
- Complimenting people on their work achievements or abilities
- Listening well
- Being timely and honest with feedback
Support is something all humans want, need and crave. Support comes in many forms and can be given in words or actions. It is one of the things, most leaders lose sight of in the rush of everyday business. There are many stressors we can’t fix for our teams. But there are steps we can take to make their work lives easier.
On a day to day basis, supporting our teams means-
- Prioritizing employee wellness
- Being Flexible
- Asking if the team needs help and provide resources and information
- Making time for the team
Perks like foosball tables and free lunches are great, but when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent, what employees really want is a compassionate organization. According to a 2018 study by Businessolver on the state of workplace empathy, 60% of employees would be willing to take a pay reduction to work for an empathetic company!
But building a compassionate leadership style or organization culture, does not happen overnight. The first step is to understand how we can be compassionate everyday and make a series of small changes that add up to a massive, long-term impact!
I hope that 2021 will be a breakthrough year for all of us to become more compassionate leaders!
Happy holidays everyone!