Compassion and Empathy in Leadership

Today’s blog is about compassion and empathy. Many people hear the words compassion and empathy and think of charitable organizations or new age well-doers. We don’t often think of this when it comes to businesses who must fight day to day battles in a competitive landscape that gets fiercer every year. But the truth is that compassion and empathy provide your organization with a sustainable competitive advantage, no matter what industry you’re in.

I know this from my experience. While I haven’t always had the words for it, I spent my entire career striving to bring compassion and empathy into cultures, lives and in my own leadership approach. Perhaps, this was a result of my own belief system. But more importantly, I took this approach for one very practical reason It works. I have experienced great results, and the steep career trajectory that comes with it, for one simple reason – compassion and empathy works.

Leading from the heart, having that compassion and empathy in your culture will work for you in any business. In fact, it is a key source of sustainable competitive advantage. Let’s take a look at the advantages of bringing compassion and empathy into your leadership.

Improved ability to attract, retain and engage a talented workforce. It is well known that the success of your business is largely a result of having good people. Having compassion and empathy in your culture makes your organization more attractive to join and keeps your existing team loyal and engaged in your business.

Adaptability. In today’s fast-moving environment, adaptability and the ability to be nimble is a ‘must have’ for organizations of all types. Compassion and empathy enable this adaptability by reducing the negative emotional impacts of change, and in turn, igniting interest in your people to create positive change. When you create this safety zone people are going to welcome change that will make the organization more competitive in the marketplace.

Collaboration. In a culture filled with compassion and empathy, people feel more comfortable sharing with their colleagues. They’re not stuck in a self-interested, competitive, eat each other up kind of environment. They’re not afraid to share their input. The collaborative relationships that are fostered in this kind of environment will lead to both employees and the business thriving.

Innovation. Innovation is crucial to success in today’s climate. The world is moving fast. Companies and organizations are disrupting and are being disrupted. Having a compassionate and empathetic culture and leadership style helps drive innovation because it creates an area of psychological safety. Compare this with a cutthroat competitive and difficult environment. In these environments people are afraid to come up with new ideas because they’re afraid of what happens when they fail. When you create psychological safety through compassion and empathy, you encourage people to have the courage to come up with and share ideas that will really move the business forward.

My challenge to each of you as a leader, is to really get out there, start practicing compassion and empathy. Take that next step. Be very intentional about how you do this. Don’t just be nice but be

intentional about how you’re empathizing with employees. Go out there, spend time with them, get to know them and be compassionate

As we all deal with the stress and uncertainty of the COVID-19 virus and its impact on our day to day lives, it's important to step back and take the time to care for ourselves. Here are some of the things that are worth consciously working on in the coming weeks.

SPEND TIME WITH LOVED ONES, especially children. In today’s busy world often our time with the ones we love gets put on the back burner. As events, activities, and schools cancel….and more and more people work at home, now is a great chance to get caught up with each other.

REDISCOVER THE SIMPLE THINGS. There was a time when we weren’t “on the clock” 24/7, when our children weren’t spending each evening in activities… when life was a routine. With much of that canceled for the near term, now is an opportunity to have family dinners, play games, read that book that you can never get to. Take a step back from the complications of the world. Take a breather.

FIND THE GOOD IN THINGS. We are bombarded all day and night with the negative things that are going on. There is much criticism over governments, mass hysteria, other nations, etc. But there are good stories out there as well. Stories of people helping people. While it's a shame that we have to work hard to find these, it is worth the effort.

Last, and most importantly, KEEP A POSITIVE MINDSET. It is so easy to succumb to the negativity that flows from a crisis such as this one. But keeping a positive mindset is one of the best things that you can do during this time. Positive energy will help you maintain your health, be productive, and reduce stress. Moreover, it is contagious. Everyone that you come in contact with (from 6 feet away of course) will be affected by your energy, even if just a little bit. And the more positive energy that is released into the world, the better this situation will be and the quicker it will resolve.


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