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Compassionate Leadership

When was the last time you showed compassion for a colleague at work?

Compassionate Leadership

Compassion may seem a bit dramatic for the workplace.

After all, it is an emotion typically associated with a response to others’ suffering. Yet compassion does indeed play an important role in the workplace, especially for leaders.

We all have a lot on our minds at work. But, for business leaders, in particular, compassion may take a back seat to other demands of the job.

Research bears this out.  Psychologist Susan Fiske of Princeton University has found that the more power people have in an organization, the more distracted, stressed, and unobservant they tend to be, which makes them less likely to tune in to others’ concerns.

Business Benefits

Becoming a compassionate leader regardless of the level of power is possible with focus and effort.

It helps the bottom line as well.

Research from The Greater Good Science Center has found that when you reconnect with your innate compassion, you’ll see a stronger connection with employees, leading to many positive business results.

The most significant influence of compassion, however, in business is on stress.

Managers often mistakenly think that putting pressure on employees will increase performance. But, unfortunately, what it does increase is stress—and research has shown that high levels of stress carry many costs to employers and employees alike.

Stress brings high health care and turnover costs.

In a study of employees from various organizations, health care expenditures for employees with high levels of stress were 46 percent greater than at similar organizations without high levels of stress. In particular, workplace stress has been linked to coronary heart disease in retrospective (observing past patterns) and prospective (predicting future patterns) studies. Then there’s the impact on turnover: 52 percent of employees report that workplace stress has led them to look for a new job, decline a promotion, or leave a job.

Research suggests that when organizations promote an ethic of compassion rather than a culture of stress, they see a happier workplace and an improved bottom line.

What does a Compassionate Business Look Like?

  1. Learning – Compassionate leaders understand that no matter how great they think they are, they are still surrounded by other intelligent people who are full of ideas that can enhance their skills and knowledge to lead even more effectively.
  2. Removing barriers. – Compassionate leaders immerse themselves in the daily grind with their team, helping them face and solve problems harming productivity.
  3. Impact – Compassionate leaders live to help others and make no room for selfishness on the teams they lead.
  4. Standards – These leaders are ethical and expect their team members to be the same.
  5. Passion –Compassionate leaders understand that driven people want to be part of something meaningful and influential.

The Bible

Compassion alludes to kindness and sympathy, but there is something deeper, something even more profoundly powerful, in its meaning.  In Latin, ‘compati’ means “suffer with.”

So compassion means someone else’s heartbreak becomes your heartbreak.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote.

“We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer.”

We are to be compassionate because the One who created us was compassionate first. Isaiah 63:7 says.

I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord,
the deeds for which he is to be praised,
according to all the Lord has done for us—
yes, the many good things
he has done for Israel,
according to his compassion and many kindnesses.

And Psalm 86:15 says.

But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.

The great thing about compassionate leadership is that it is not just good for the bottom line, but it is beneficial for all people involved.  Everyone benefits from compassionate leadership.