By Mark Staniland, Regional Managing Director at Hays
Compassion is an integral leadership quality which is needed to support your team through thick and thin. But never has leading compassionately been more important than it is today in light of a rapidly changing world of work, which is operating more remotely than it has before.
What a compassionate leader looks like
Being a compassionate leader is not about ‘going soft’ or constantly being at the beck and call of your team. Instead, it’s about:
- Having awareness and self-respect
- Putting yourself in the shoes of others
- Understanding your role as the conductor of the orchestra, not a player
- Making your people feel empowered and accountable for their work
- Providing constructive and valuable feedback to your team
- Take some time to self-reflect: Self-reflection is a positive first step to becoming a more compassionate leader. Try to think of times when you may have resorted to less-than-desirable tactics when managing or leading your people.
- Be aware of your language:Using your words in a way that show your understanding of how your people feel in certain challenging situations – empathising with their situation, rather than merely sympathising– can make an immense difference to how positively and productively your team works as a unit.
- Show your authentic, human self:Part of being a compassionate leader is about showing your authentic self to those you work with. This will allow your people to feel comfortable in asking you for support, thus building a culture of trust and learning within your team. Don’t be afraid to show your ‘real’ self.
- Seek everyone’s point of view:It can bring real benefits to your team and, indeed, your wider workplace, if you are able to clear your mind, put your personal views to one side, and try to see situations from the perspective of your people. Always attempt to envisage yourself in the shoes of your team members in every challenging scenario you face.
- Create a psychologically-supportive culture:Occasional errors and mistakes are to be expected. What’s important is how we learn from them and refine our approach for next time. Compassionate leaders know this. They will take steps to create a psychologically supportive culture within their teams – a culture whereby everyone feels empowered and supported to try new things and take moderate risks, even if they make mistakes and things don’t go as planned.
- Engage with your employees as people – not just employees:Your people are human beings, not robots, so treat them like the former, not the latter. Show your employees that you ‘have their back’ and can (and will) step in to provide any assistance or support they might need.
- Realise the value of good feedback: Giving feedback well is an important element of compassionate leadership as it opens the recipients’ eyes to the changes they need to make in order to thrive. Importantly, a compassionate leader will always explain that they are ultimately there to help their team improve – whilst giving them the resources they need to succeed and being clear on what improvements they expect to see.