What would you say are the key traits of effective leadership? Focus, the ability to motivate, perseverance – these are all important, but they tend to focus on tasks rather than people. Great leadership comes from the realization that it is your people, not your products, that are most important to your organization. The key trait when it comes to people-oriented leadership is compassion. Leaders haven’t always understood the connection between compassion and leadership, but it really is central to an organization’s success, especially in uncertain times.
Not only is it important to be compassionate yourself, and to treat your team members with compassion. You need to encourage a culture of compassion among your team as well. Compassion should be one of the hallmarks of your organization’s internal and external connections, alongside gratitude and pride.
Cultivating compassion in your team
Gratitude, pride and compassion are not just HR watchwords. Cultivating these three interlocking emotional traits will always have a positive effect on your business outcomes too. Innovation and achievement are team efforts, and all teams that recognize and nurture the emotional needs of their members will do better in the long run. Each team member is hired for their specific set of skills, expertise and experience, but these must be combined through active cooperation in order to reach the best results. In turn, effective cooperation comes about through strong social bonds. These bonds can only be created and developed through compassionate communication among your team members, a sense of shared gratitude for the organization’s resources, goals and incentives, and a strong bond of mutual pride in the outcomes. Although the unifying emotions of gratitude, pride and compassion must permeate the team as a whole, it is up to the leaders to initiate them and ensure that they are instilled in each member and the collective.
Traditional motivational tactics have often involved a combination of discipline and incentive. “Just keep your head down and do the work, and you will each see rewards in the end.” While this approach does yield limited success, it is no substitute for a team that is self-driven, bonded by a sense of compassion for one another, and united in shared gratitude and pride for their organization and their places in it. Simple discipline has a tendency to isolate, while gratitude, compassion and pride cause people to behave in more supportive and mutually encouraging ways. As a result, leaders who encourage pride, gratitude and compassion are sure to have happier, more motivated teams, and will experience increased productivity and innovation as a result. Compassion, in particular, builds dedication. People who work in conditions characterized by trust, acceptance and social cohesion, demonstrate heightened engagement, better performance, higher energy levels, lower absenteeism and increased work satisfaction.
Compassion, gratitude and pride motivate individuals and teams to cooperate and invest in themselves, their colleagues, their organizations and products. They encourage each team member to appreciate their part in the team and the process, and thus to strengthen their commitment to the organization’s goals. Individuals who experience compassion from their colleagues and leaders, and who respond in kind, as well as feeling proud of their contribution to communal achievements, are sure to be happier and more productive team members.
Corporate Class Inc. is a global authority in leadership coaching and empowerment. We strive to develop exceptional leaders and to assist organizations in developing effective leadership approaches. Based in Toronto, and with a worldwide presence, we have helped to nurture mindful leaders since 1984. Contact us for more information on the connections between compassion and leadership, and how to develop mindful, empathic leadership practices.