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Compassionate Leadership

Today’s blog looks at the professional benefits of being compassionate and how compassionate leadership creates a culture that is both supportive and encourages and allows people to flourish.

It is time for a new approach to leadership that transcends the traditional measures of performance, to take care of the human condition at the heart level.

Compassionate leadership begins with the intention to see as others see, and feel as other feel. Compassion doesn’t follow a give and take approach. Instead, it has an added component of altruism in that the person showing compassion rarely expects to receive the same or does so to get something in return.

Compassionate Leadership has emerged from the growing field of mindfulness. The fact that compassion and leadership are rarely positively correlated is perhaps the very reason it’s resonating so widely.

As global competition and heightened civil uncertainty has driven companies to outsource, flatten and cut back, people are increasingly searching for a deeper sense of meaning in their work and a closer connection between what they do and how it serves a greater good. Compassionate leadership can be summarised as;

  1. Empathy: Feeling as somebody else is feeling (however uncomfortable)

  2. Cognitive: Seeking to understand what somebody else is thinking and why they came to hold their opinion (requiring mindful listening)

  3. Motivation: Trying to take care of the concerns of others and move them forwards

By practising genuine empathy, leaders are better positioned to cultivate mindfulness in others, enabling them to both fulfil their own potential and share this with colleagues for a greater good. In essence, compassion is empathy in action. Recent research and findings have recognised compassion to be an essential aspect of a productive work environment. Showing compassion to colleagues, is vital to sustaining job satisfaction and work-related motivation.

What Is Compassion In The Workplace?

Studies show that companies where compassion is evident as part of the culture, have employees with reduced stress and more job satisfaction. Additionally, workplace compassion can also invite greater loyalty, dedication, and engagement.

All companies have an emotional component in them, and employees who work with each other compassionately are more likely to support and cooperate with each each other. We can express compassion in the workplace by:

  • Noticing when colleagues are struggling or are undergoing some personal stressors, and try to make them feel secure and comfortable at work

  • Actively listening to others without judging them

  • Accepting feedback and being open to learning and improving our practice and performance

Focusing on compassion at work promotes healthy interpersonal relationships. It lets us acknowledge and appreciate others wholeheartedly and work to benefit all not just personal gain. Studies show that compassion works by building trust, mutual connections, and reciprocation. Research has also revealed that communicating with empathy and kindness upgrade the value system of the employees and they feel more involved as a part of the team.

The definition of compassion clearly states the importance of the ‘action’ component in it. Unless we can express compassion through our behaviour, the feelings cannot be conveyed. Some companies may have incredibly talented professionals who have years of experience in their field, but unless they greet others with respect, talk empathetically, or are able to internalise others’ feelings, they cannot be as successful in their fields.

The benefits of being compassionate at work are vast. It guarantees a healthy flow of communication that has warmth and love in it and goes all the way to improve a company’s organisational health.

A company indeed will succeed if it has employees and managers exhibiting these traits.

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