Better leadership starts with compassion

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.

4 tips to lead with compassion

We all want to be enthusiastic and positive leaders, ones who inspire our team members to contribute and excel. We want to foster teams that thrive and that seem to generate their own abundant energy. We want to be leaders who connect with our team members, identify their strengths and weaknesses and help them work with both. How do we foster that ability to connect? Here are four steps to help you lead with compassion.

Embrace self-awareness and self-compassion

Success as a leader starts with you – how you treat and understand yourself. Your step, therefore, is to accept your own feelings and reactions. Be compassionate with yourself as you assess your own responses and your perceived strengths and weaknesses. How much do you expect of yourself? How do you respond to yourself when something goes wrong, or when a deadline is looming, and you need to push yourself through an 80-hour week to achieve it? Be kind to yourself. Practise discipline by all means, but also know when to take your foot off the gas, and even give yourself some acknowledgement and rewards.

Develop a gratitude practice

Never underestimate the power of gratitude. It has genuine, measurable positive effects on your mental health. Too many people – leaders among them – focus on problems, faults, shortfalls and crises. Their approach to daily tasks and to leadership will reflect this focus. A negative focus will not foster a compassionate and success-driven approach. Choose to cultivate gratitude instead, and let this drive your approach both to the daily routine and unforeseen crises. This will require you to take a step back from your busy schedule for just a few minutes each day. Just take a moment to pause and reflect on what makes you feel grateful. This helps clear your mind of distractions, allowing you to focus more clearly on the present and uncover hidden opportunities. Once you have mastered this approach, you can easily share it with your team members – it is amazing how contagious feelings of gratitude and contentment can be.

Practice and hone emotional intelligence

Business is never just business. While it is important to behave professionally, doing so does not require repressing your emotions for the duration of the working day. On the contrary, you and your team should be encouraged to bring your emotions to the workplace and express them in an adult manner, while also honing your ability to listen to, and understand the emotions of others. Encourage open-mindedness and the willingness to share.

Embrace curiosity, open-mindedness and innovation

Being a leader does not mean that you must come up with all the ideas, nor does it mean that everyone needs to think as you do. On the contrary, diversity of thought is crucial to the success of any enterprise. You must always be curious about new ways to approach your work. You should always ask your team members to contribute their thoughts on the subject and show a willingness to adopt their ideas if they prove tenable and constructive. Encourage everyone to share this approach, sharing ideas openly and actively seeking and discussing ways to innovate, to reach goals more efficiently, and produce better outcomes. This fosters an environment of collaboration in which each team member feels that they have a part to play, and that their contributions are appreciated. It also lays a strong foundation for growth and innovation, helping your business move forward into an uncertain and fast-moving future.

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 how to develop mindful leadership and lead with compassion.

Cultivating compassionate leadership during the pandemic

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic reach further into our daily lives than many of us understand or are prepared to admit. It is not simply a matter of changing the way we do business every day, or the way we interact with our colleagues and clients. These are simply the most obvious, external consequences of the crisis. It has affected each of us on a deeper level, with feelings of fear and uncertainty affecting our view of the future. Managing a team in this environment, moving companies forward through the pandemic, requires compassionate leadership.  

The psychological cost of Covid-19 

A crisis on the scale of the COVID-19 pandemic triggers a complex range of psychological responses, including feelings of distress, a general increase in negative affect and heightened sensitivity to emotional stimuli. Under these conditions, people look around for a place of safety – familiar people and situations that can help ease their feelings of fear and hopelessness. The struggle to adjust to such drastic changes in our daily environment can trigger feelings of grief, shock, anger, denial and depression. 

It is in these circumstances that strong, mindful leaders really come to the forefront. The problem is that leaders are also feeling the effects of the crisis and are dealing with their own feelings of grief and fear. Unless you, as a leader, are mindful of your team members’ feelings in this situation, you can very easily retreat into your own survival mechanisms, busying yourself with various tasks and addressing operational issues that draw your attention away from rising sentiments of fear and distress. Mindful leaders will take note of these impulses and use them to drive a renewed, conscious and compassionate leadership approach that will help to pull themselves and their team members out of the mire and move forward through the crisis. Recognizing and understanding one’s own fears can help one to be more compassionate towards others – and that compassion is a vital trait for leaders during a crisis like the global pandemic.

How to practise compassion during the pandemic

You can foster mindful, compassionate leadership during this crisis (or any other, for that matter) with the following four practices: understand and integrate your own feelings, practise daily gratitude, open yourself to the care and empathy of others, and finally, turn outward to project your self-knowledge and compassion towards others. 

Create time for self-awareness. Look at your own feelings and responses towards the crisis, and identify them without judging them. You may notice feelings of anxiety, or heightened physical or emotional sensitivity. Simply understand these impulses for what they are and show compassion for yourself. Spend some time with yourself each day, and be aware of how you are feeling. During this time, also make a conscious effort to practise gratitude. Conscious gratitude is highly beneficial for mental health. It renews and inspires and helps to counter feelings of fear and hopelessness. Be willing to be more open and vulnerable with your feelings and be willing to accept expressions of care and compassion from others. Finally, turn outward and share this compassion and understanding with your team members. In doing so, you can help to develop a new perspective on the situation, unify your team, take better care of your team members and encourage them to care for each other, and ultimately, reframe the crisis and develop a plan to get through it and thrive.  

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 how to foster mindful and compassionate leadership.

How to transform into a mindful leader

A mindful leader is someone selfless, present, and non-judgemental. They lead with creativity, compassion, and to serve others. Additionally, mindful leaders can balance their workload while managing their team’s workload while managing stress levels. 

Suppose you wish to practice mindfulness at work and in your personal life. In that case, you need to understand the characteristics of mindful leadership and practices you can adopt to transform into a mindful leader.

Some of these practices include:

  • Perform mindfulness exercises: Some common mindfulness exercises include sitting and walking meditation, deep breathing, journaling, and single-tasking. If none of these activities speak to you, try searching for some mindfulness exercises online and choose those that appeal to you the most. Whatever activity you choose, ensure you practice it regularly. 
  • Disconnect regularly: Disconnecting refers to taking breaks or time-outs during your workday, so you get a moment to relax. Additionally, you might find yourself to be more productive and creative after your break. The Pomodoro technique can help you manage your time and help you disconnect systematically. The method divides your workday into 25-minute sessions, separated by five-minute intervals. 
  • Relabel stress: When you handle your everyday work activities, it’s common to feel stressed and overwhelmed. Mindful leaders manage workplace stress by pulling themselves back into reality and dealing with their current environment and tasks. 
  • Mindfulness leadership training: Mindfulness isn’t instantaneous; it requires practice and dedication. As a result, many senior leaders enroll in mindfulness programs to help them be more intuitive, focused, and aware of their present environment. 

Benefits of mindful leadership

Mindfulness helps leaders manage their day-to-day tasks and cater to the well-being of their teammates. This is crucial since today’s world is filled with distractions and uneasiness that can affect a leader’s thought process. As a result, mindfulness helps leaders and team members to regain their focus quickly.

Here are the other significant advantages of mindful leadership:

Reduced stress

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, stress is the brain and body’s natural response to change, challenge, or demand. Stress is how our bodies react against the thought of danger or an event that makes us feel uncomfortable and nervous. A key component of mindfulness, present-moment awareness, can help monitor and understand your current experiences instead of focusing on future events or dwelling on the past. This way, your mind can focus on the present, increasing stress resilience and effective coping. Additionally, by staying in the present, you can deal with your stressors and overcome all your challenges when and if they happen.

Increased attention

Practicing mindfulness can help you dedicate your attention and skills to the current task at hand. This way, you’re less likely to fall victim to the distractions and other stimuli around you. 

Improved relationships

As a mindful leader, you can form more positive relationships with employees. Your ability to be compassionate and empathetic, as well as your enhanced listening skills, can help you communicate with your team clearly, offer constructive feedback, and create a transparent work environment filled with creativity and productivity.  

Boosted creativity

Mindfulness is also about being innovative and developing solutions to complex problems. For example, mindfulness meditation can open your mind to new ideas and help you understand the viability of those ideas. 

If you recognize that you have a long way to go before becoming a leader, you’re on the right path. Contact Corporate Class today to develop your skills and transform into a mindful leader. 

We offer high-quality mindful leadership training, coaching, and consulting to some of the world’s largest Fortune 500 companies across the globe.

How to become a mindful leader

Before we look at how you can become a mindful leader, let’s first determine what a mindful leader is. Leading people in an incredibly challenging task in a world full of distractions. However, mindful leaders can exude their passion, education, professionalism, and skills throughout their everyday business tasks amidst these distractions. A mindful leader is present, selfless, and inspires others to work ethically and productively. 

So, how do you become a mindful leader?

Here are three steps you can take to become a mindful leader:

1. Develop availability and flexibility

Availability is a vital mindfulness characteristic since employees expect availability and consistency from their leaders. To develop availability, you need to build empathic awareness, presence, and a curiosity for your team member’s ideas, opinions, and experiences. Additionally, you should listen to your employees whenever they have a concern or idea and follow through on your promises and commitments. This way, your workforce will feel appreciated, seen, and heard. Flexibility is all about being able to adapt to changing circumstances and environments. Whether the market is changing or there’s a structural change in the company, a flexible leader can maintain a flexible mindset and use their skills to respond to these changes with optimistic solutions. 

2. Build emotional intelligence

Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence (EI) model is based on four ideals: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. These four elements can guide mindful leaders in their day-to-day activities, especially when handling a challenging task. Emotional awareness can also help mindful business leaders make the right decisions even when the matter is personal or intense emotions are involved. However, emotional intelligence can also help leaders empathize with their team members and support them effectively, leading to further transparency and trust in the workplace. 

3. Focus on integrity and ethics

Leaders with a strong moral compass and integrity can influence their team members to act ethically. This is especially true since most employees look up to their leaders and view them as role models. 

Developing strong personal ethics and having a sense of integrity can also help leaders deal with challenging or murky situations with ease since leaders have an internal moral compass that they can trust and rely on. Additionally, this prevents leaders from being distracted or swayed by complex professional and personal dilemmas. 

Why mindful leadership is important

As mentioned above, today’s world is filled with challenges that can affect us mentally, emotionally, and professionally. As a result, it’s crucial to understand mindfulness and cultivate mindful leadership. Moreover, we are often distracted by various technological devices, social media, and the internet that can harm our mental health and lead to a sense of disconnection and ultimately overwhelm and isolate us. Additionally, we have access to so much information and a wide variety of voices and opinions that sometimes overwhelm and confuse our own ideas and thoughts. However, these changing times also present an opportunity to be innovative, compassionate, and practice mindfulness.

Contact Corporate Class today to develop your skills and become a mindful leader. We offer high-quality mindful leadership training, coaching, and consulting to some of the world’s largest Fortune 500 companies across the globe.

4 traits of a mindful leader

Before we dive into the traits of a mindful leader, let’s first uncover what it means to be a mindful leader.

A mindful leader is someone who embodies leadership by being present, non-judgemental and tackling problems with clarity. Mindful leadership encourages focus, creativity, and compassion while serving others. Additionally, mindful leaders can manage their own workloads while simultaneously organizing the team’s workload. Other crucial mindfulness characteristics include boosting employee engagement, promoting productivity, and managing stress levels. The innate characteristics we mentioned are fundamentals of excellent leadership. However, it can be challenging to embody these characteristics since the world is filled with distractions that can derail us from our goals. As a result, you need to take a deeper look at yourself and figure out if you can lead without ego and put the wellness of your teammates and the organization before yourself. 

Here are four traits you should focus on to become a genuinely mindful leader:

Lead by humility

Humility is the quality of being humble and putting the needs of others before yourself. According to Ken Blanchard, “humility doesn’t mean to think less of yourself; it means to think of yourself less.” Additionally, humble leaders can recognize their own strengths and weaknesses and understand when to ask for help. This includes asking for feedback and accepting their own shortcomings when company goals aren’t met.

Humility is also directly connected to integrity. As a result, leaders with humility uphold a high standard of integrity. This way, they can lead with authenticity and guide others meaningfully. This is crucial since leaders often find themselves in challenging situations where the lines between ethical and unethical behavior are blurred. Leaders who lead with integrity can make the right, selfless decisions and put the company’s needs before their own.

Lead by example

Mindful leaders need to lead by example and exemplify what the workforce should do morally and professionally. This is crucial since teams usually look up to their leaders and view them as role models. As a result, unethical behavior or leading with poor interests can influence the organization’s culture and its people. Mindful leaders can guide others positively through their behaviors and inspire them to perform similarly. When you lead by example, you provide a path for others to work toward a common goal with the same ethics. Additionally, you shouldn’t expect your employees to do something you’re unwilling to do. This can cause distrust and a disconnect between leadership and the workforce. 

Recognition

Although your employees get paid for doing their jobs, a paycheck sometimes isn’t the only form of recognition people need. As a result, mindful leaders need to show appreciation and recognize employees for their hard work and dedication. You can do this by thanking employees personally or publicly or rewarding them with personalized benefits like time off or gift cards. Regular appreciation is essential since it can also help balance out the critical feedback that leaders need to provide. Employees who are appreciated and recognized are more likely to be engaged, productive, and loyal to the company. 

Compassionate communication

Mindful leaders also need to be self-aware and consider how they communicate with their employees. As a result, you need to ensure your emotions are in check before responding to an email or person. Additionally, you should think about what kind of impact your message or communication will have on the person who is receiving it – is what you’re saying honest and beneficial? Taking these things into consideration will help you communicate with your workforce correctly and create a transparent workplace. 

Contact Corporate Class today if you want to develop your skills and become a mindful leader. We offer high-quality training, coaching, and consulting to some of the world’s most enormous Fortune 500 companies across the globe.