Compassionate leadership is not something that can be glazed over as simply a pleasant idea or an interesting concept. In recent years, people have become accustomed to shifting with unexpected workplace challenges more than ever before, often to the detriment of their personal lives. Managing with a compassionate leadership style will help you build connections with the people you work with who are navigating these adversities. They’ll know their wellbeing is your priority, in turn staying committed to your vision. Besides the positive emotional impact you’ll have, employees perform far better when they know they’re valued. That’s what happens when compassion enters the work environment. Let’s explore compassionate leadership further.
What Is Compassionate Leadership?
If you’re asking, “What is compassionate leadership?” it is the prioritization of the people in your organization along with the output they’re producing. It is placing importance on relationships and illustrating – through action – that you care. Compassionate leadership means listening with the intention of understanding and responding mindfully, whether that looks like taking constructive criticism, offering advice, or simply being someone they can trust.
Leading with compassion imparts hope to your team and exemplifies the purpose of the work you’d like them to believe in, rather than expecting them to blindly follow instructions. Their belief in the work they do will strongly impact their performance and overall contentment within your organization, directly affecting retention and turnover.
Pillars Of Compassionate Leadership
Compassionate leadership skills and traits can be developed, like any other skill. The foundation of this model is genuine care for the people you lead. This cannot be fabricated, and those around you will feel if it’s being forced. Some of the other primary actions that this leadership style demands are intentional listening and communication, a willingness to learn, and hopeful rhetoric. These are just a few pillars of compassionate leadership.
Benefits Of Compassionate Leadership
Here are a few of the many benefits of compassionate leadership:
People will trust you more
Intuition is a powerful thing. We typically know when those around us can be trusted. Compassion is something we undeniably appreciate in a leader, and it will allow your team to feel good about trusting you.
You’ll influence people more than if you try to control them
Trust goes both ways, and one part of this equation is that you’ll need to let go of some of the control you may want to exert over your team. Compassion involves letting your people grow where they naturally excel.
Your team will learn to care about each other
Leading by example is the most effective way to illustrate a trait you want your team to live out. By showing an interest in their lives and offering kindness, they are likely to do the same for each other.
Your team will believe in the company vision if they feel like you believe in them
People need to feel seen and cared about. They will go far further for you when they experience this from you.
Disadvantages Of Compassionate Leadership
While there are few actual disadvantages to compassionate leadership that is mature and paired with wisdom, a leadership style that presents itself as compassionate but lacks strong ethics or fosters a fear of confrontation can have the following negative repercussions:
- People may take advantage of you
- People may not take you seriously
- You’ll resent the interactions you have with people when you can’t stand up for yourself or the organization
- Your team won’t be strong because without a leader they all trust and respect, there’s no solid core to build from
- You’ll have to be careful to not cross the line from compassion to enabling bad behavior; the line is often blurrier than you might think
Compassionate Leadership Examples
Examples of compassionate leadership include taking time to check in with your team members individually to make sure they’re doing okay personally as well as professionally. It looks like actually getting to know the people you work with, not just for the value they can provide you, but for who they are as individuals. The effort put into learning about them will be felt and will make a difference in how they view you and how willing they are to go the extra mile for you when it counts.
Amit Ray, in his book Mindfulness Meditation for Corporate Leadership and Management, writes, “Compassionate leaders honor the complexity of human relationships, nurture authenticity and create common grounds for blooming great ideas of individuals.”
Ray summarizes the purpose of compassionate leadership succinctly.
Compassion is not something managers and leaders can afford to leave at home. The compassionate leadership model is effective, grounding, and offers a more holistic approach to leadership. Your team deserves compassion, and you deserve a team that trusts you and your direction. Compassionate leadership gives you both.
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