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How to Build Successful Teams with Compassionate Leadership

24 September 2021

By definition, compassionate leadership in the workplace is about both being a compassionate person and also trying to use that compassion to cultivate a culture of openness, where problems can be shared, addressed and support is given.

Why does corporate leadership matter?

Compassionate leadership matters because it has been proven to provide substantial benefits. A leadership study from the Australian School of Business involving 5,600 participants from 77 different organisations discovered that organisations with compassionate leaders had consistently boosted employee productivity, good employee morale and solid bottom-line profitability.

Other benefits include:

  • Colleagues who experience compassion in the workplace forge stronger connections to their peers, which connects them psychologically and results in a strong unit.
  • Employees who experience compassionate leadership are more likely to commit to their organisation and talk about it positively, which increases employee retention rates.
  • Employees who feel their work environment is compassionate feel more compelled to share their professional troubles which negate stress and boosts productivity and motivation whilst also quelling burnout.

Related: Team leaders suffer from burnout too – and they’re some of the worst offenders. Learn how to better manage leadership burnout here.

How do you demonstrate compassionate leadership?

To build a strong team, leaders must demonstrate compassionate leadership. This can be done by harnessing the four qualities of a compassionate leader. Namely:

  • The ability to possess both self-awareness and self-compassion. In other words, they’re alive to their own strengths and weaknesses and are happy to receive help and feedback from colleagues and team members about these. In addition, they extend their compassion inwards to be kidner to themselves, and thus put themselves under less pressure. Read more about self-leadership for effective leadership here.
  • The ability to put themselves in the shoes of others. Empathy is a strong trait of compassionate people, and compassionate leaders need to be able to see, consider and understand things from alternative perspectives in order to fully understand and assist the person struggling.
  • The ability to remain open-minded. Compassionate leaders know that they don’t know everything, and don’t expect other people to. Instead they evaluate everyone’s strengths and weaknesses and use them accordingly in order to create a unit that complements and supports itself.
  • The desire to help. Compassionate leaders stay alert to offering feedback, advice and support and provide these to employees or team members in appropriate, considerate, constructive and impactful ways.

Use compassionate leadership to build your team by:

1. Using a deeper understanding of your team

Remember Thupten Jinpa’s three pillars? Together they will help you to understand your team’s strengths, weaknesses, passions and motivators.

With your knowledge, you’ll be better placed to be able to assign team members roles, responsibilities, duties or projects where their talents can be fully utilised and where they will work harmoniously alongside other team members strengths, weaknesses or motivations.

2. Cultivating team values

Team values are essential when it comes to deploying a leadership strategy that embodies compassion. Values should be relevant to the personalities of team members however, and could comprise of things such as:

  • Collaboration
  • Innovation
  • Openness
  • Solidarity

3. Being proactive

Compassionate leaders are leaders who listen, respond and pay attention to the needs, feelings and stressors of their team members.

Part of being a compassionate leader is by truly appreciating your team members through seeing them holistically and being open to their strengths and weaknesses.

Each team member that feels seen, heard and understood will feel valued and will give value in return.

Likewise, a compassionate leader will be proactive to external events that could distract or deter employees. Their reactive response, passion and vision is capable of re-energising and engaging the team to enable them to carry out their work unburdened.

Compassionate leaders remain enthusiastic and empathetic, which creates positive energy capable of generating focus and allowing team members to see themselves as part of something meaningful.

4. Remaining open-minded

Compassion is synonymous with proactiveness, and though we’ve addressed how leaders can be proactive to the needs and wants of their team members, leaders can also show compassion in their open-mindedness.

Leaders who continue to remain open to new possibilities, perspectives and changes can tweak their leadership policies, make organisational changes and even implement strategies that may benefit the organisation as well as its team members.

To remain open-minded, compassionate leaders will often challenge themselves by pushing boundaries, changing perspectives and encouraging the eradication of comfort zones.

Such subtle changes can provide untold support and help to team members, unifying teams and bolstering morale, productivity and results.

In summary

You can grow your organisation by harnessing the often-overlooked power of compassionate leadership. Remember that at its heart, compassionate leadership is about:

  • Being a leader that others want to follow
  • Inspiring, motivating and caring for others to connect them with a meaningful mission
  • Valuing and appreciating team members
  • Building a productive, open working environment that feels less like a group of individuals and more like a team achieving as a unit
  • Being proactive with treating others with affection, respect and kindness.

Compassionate leadership is one of many strategies that can help to grow a business. To determine which strategy might be right in growing your own organisation, book a free business strategy review call with us or tell us how we can help with growing your business or managing its growth. We’d be happy to help.

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