At AGE-u-cate we are talking a lot about Compassion Culture. You might be thinking as a leader, “that sounds nice, but what results will it bring?”. I’ve got some answers!
In a previous blog Compassionate Leadership: Building MORALE, we shared key pillars to becoming a compassionate leader by looking at the acronym MORALE. We’ll drill down into 2 of the 6.
Here are 2 ways leading with compassion can unleash innovation for your organization and increase productivity among your team:
Did you think leading others was all about them? Wrong! A lot about being a leader is connected to YOU. Mindfulness is a critical practice in leading with compassion. It’s hard, some might say impossible, to lead others with compassion if you aren’t first taking care of yourself. And it is increasingly difficult to take care of yourself if you don’t make time for practices that keep you grounded, especially in times of high stress. When stress creeps into our lives, we begin to unconsciously make decisions that are further and further away from our core values.
In a Harvard Business Review article that addresses how mindfulness helps you become a better leader, this quote is powerful:
“You know you’re in trouble when you start to judge your self-worth by your net worth.”
As companies begin to grow, it’s easy for the culture to transition to more bureaucratic and less caring. But it doesn’t always have to be that way if leaders at the top are focused and mindful of the people who work within the organization.
Let’s go back to 2009 soon after the Great Recession hit. According to an article from Charter for Compassion, CEO of SAS, Jim Goodnight, who often says that the secret to their success is taking care of their employees, gathered all 13,000 employees via a webcast to announce that no one would lose their job. He simply asked everyone to be vigilant with spending and to help the firm endure the storm. In a high-stress situation, the leaders of SAS didn’t panic. They didn’t focus on their bottom line. They focused on their people. In 2012 SAS reported record earnings of 2.8 billion dollars.
When you are mindful, you’re aware of your presence and the ways you impact other people. You’re able to both observe and participate in each moment while recognizing the implications of your actions for the longer term. And that prevents you from slipping into a life that pulls you away from your values.
In our previous blog Compassionate Leadership: Building MORALE, we talked a lot about the difference between being kind and being nice. Being kind is not a sign of weakness, nor does it equate to avoiding difficult conversations. When you lead with kindness you are committing to constantly showing that you care for others. Caring for others includes being compassionate, recognizing when someone is struggling, and offering to help. Being a kind leader means you have a person’s best interest at heart, you address concerns immediately while also giving person-centered recognition and praise. When you practice open communication, expectations are clear, and setting goals involve the people expected to contribute to the outcomes. One size doesn’t fit all when you’re a compassionate leader.
Since COVID, there has been a lot of talk about how kindness in leadership and kindness rooted in company culture can not only support employee retention but increase productivity. Here are some stats shared from a 2018 EmployTest article:
According to a 2018 Glassdoor roundup of 20 companies where employees are happiest, a top priority for workers is a company that provides support for work/life balance and personal as well as professional growth.
According to the Wellness Council of America, symptoms of stress at work manifest in missed work days, lower productivity, higher medical costs, and a higher incidence of employee turnover.
According to a 2015 survey of 1,000 employees by Virgin Pulse, nearly 60 percent of respondents said their relationship with their employer positively impacted their focus or productivity at work, and 44 percent said it positively impacted their stress levels.
So, there you have it. Just 2 things you can be practicing TODAY to help you on your journey as a compassionate leader, weaving compassion into the culture of your organization. Leadership and culture are a journey and we don’t always get it right. The important thing is that we keep trying. That’s why mindfulness and open communication are highlighted first!