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6 tips for compassionate leadership
Practice compassion to take your business to new heights
You’ve been working on your leadership skills. You’ve become an excellent public speaker. You know your company’s software inside and out. You tackle client meetings like a pro. You’re organized, effective and able to think long-term. These are all valuable leadership skills. But something is missing.
Compassionate and caring leadership is the cornerstone of any successful business.
Harvard surveyed more than 1,000 leaders to prove the importance of compassionate leadership. Ninety-one percent thought compassion was very important for leadership. But 80% didn’t know how to build this vital skill. Fortunately, building compassion as a leader is something anyone can do – you just need the right tools.
What is compassionate leadership?
Compassionate leadership means seeing employees both as individuals and as important parts of your organization. Compassionate leaders relate to their employees on a deeper level. They want to understand their team’s needs and provide the support they need to do their jobs well. They are at their core servant leaders who understand that to reach the heights of business success, you must inspire others to follow you.
Compassionate leadership doesn’t mean enabling bad behavior. It doesn’t mean avoiding bad news and negative feedback because you want to avoid conflict. While it may be easier for you, it only enables bad behavior and sets others up to fail – the opposite of being compassionate.
Having compassion as a leader means setting high standards and helping others live up to them. It also means living up to these standards yourself in every aspect of your daily life. Leading by example is a hallmark of compassionate and caring leadership.
Rather than asking “What’s in it for me?,” compassionate leaders are always asking, “How can I make this better?”
Why do I need compassionate and caring leadership?
Compassion as a leader is an essential piece of modern organizations. Today’s employees demand a workplace that provides feedback, support and professional development. Without compassionate and caring leadership, you won’t be able to inspire others to follow your vision – and you won’t have an engaged workforce.
Engaged employees are more connected to each other and to the company. They trust leadership more and are more committed to the company. That means they’re less likely to leave. Studies have found that compassionate leadership results in lower turnover and better teamwork.
That means compassionate leadership can affect your company’s bottom line. When you have compassion as a leader, you’ll spend less money on employee turnover and training. That’s good for everyone.
How to have compassion as a leader
Compassionate leadership isn’t just about being nice at work. It’s much more. And it’s made up of habits we can practice every day.
Great leaders are great communicators. It has nothing to do with public speaking skills or salesmanship. Communication begins with deep listening. Making eye contact, giving nonverbal feedback, using your body language affirmatively and focusing on the conversation are all ways you can practice deep listening. This principle of compassionate leadership helps you earn your team’s trust and uncover how you can help them feel more fulfilled at work.
Once you master deep listening, you’ll be able to uncover others’ metaprograms and determine how to communicate with them effectively. Metaprograms are the way people process information, and are the key to influencing them. The words you choose are another piece of the puzzle. Compassionate leadership uses affirmative language. Eliminate words like “can’t” and “challenge” and replace them with “haven’t yet” and “opportunity.” A Harvard study found that encouraging words cause the brain to produce the feel-good chemical oxytocin – and when your team feels good, they’ll be more productive.
One of the first steps to compassionate leadership is to realize that you don’t know everything. Your team, your organization and others in your life all have different experiences from which you can learn. Don’t make the mistake of ignoring new ideas or assuming there’s nothing more you can do. Always seek feedback and treat others around you as the intelligent people they are. It takes self-awareness to practice compassionate and caring leadership.
Seeking feedback is one way to be present: Ask thoughtful questions and truly listen to the answers. Being present also means connecting with the day-to-day tasks of your team. Don’t lock yourself away in the corner office and hope everything runs smoothly. Facing problems along with your team shows that you respect them and care about them. You can improve your leadership skills just by being there.
Control your emotions
If you had a stressful morning, an awful commute or just have a lot going on right now, it might be hard to practice compassionate leadership. That’s OK. No one feels kind and considerate all the time. But great leaders know how to control their emotions, instead of letting their emotions control them. They don’t yell. They don’t storm out of meetings. They don’t nitpick and micromanage. They trust their team, and empower them to innovate and create.
Having compassion as a leader won’t mean anything if you don’t show it. Human beings want to feel significant – so give your team some recognition for their accomplishments. Tony says that “When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears.” In the workplace, showing your gratitude for your team can inspire them to work harder and be more innovative. Abundance will surely appear.