Compassion Management at Work is Not Wimpy…..It Increases the Bottom Line

Posted by on Dec 6, 2013 in Leadership | Comments Off on Compassion Management at Work is Not Wimpy…..It Increases the Bottom Line

According to a recent Harvard Business Review (HBR) Blog, “The Rise of Compassionate Management (Finally)”, research has shown that organizations that foster compassion have an increase in profitability.  Managers that coach people with compassion preserve the dignity and wellbeing of the recipient. Moving both the task and relationship together is often challenging, but important if you want to create a culture that is more productive and increases employee retention. It is responsible leadership to role model compassion and respect.

HBR also implies that compassionate people don’t have boundaries and therefore are used and abused by others.  I disagree with that assessment.  I think they are confusing compassion with passive behavior. People who are passive may not communicate boundaries or expectations to avoid conflict which leads to unmet needs. Compassion is about stepping into someone else’s shoes and perceiving a situation from their view.  It is a respectful way to work with people to create positive outcomes.  You can be compassionate without being a push-over or passive. Gandhi is an example of a compassionate leader who was not afraid to set boundaries.

Diverse business group meeting

National News Contrasts Compassionate Management

Last week Kathleen Sebelius, the US secretary of Health and Human Services, testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee about the new Affordable Healthcare website problems. What struck me was the disrespectful tone of one congresswoman towards Kathleen Sebelius.  The congresswoman was looking for someone to blame and shame.  I experienced it as unproductive, arrogant grandstanding and poor role modeling from someone in a leadership position. Conversely, Kathleen Sebelius responded in a respectful manner, taking full responsibility for the technical problems. In my opinion her response demonstrated respectful leadership.

These types of conversations play out in organizations all of the time and can be highly unproductive and costly.  So how do you Cultivate Compassionate Management in your organization? Since we get what we tolerate, we need to expose and transform non-productive behavior when we experience it.  LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner has made Compassionate Management a core-competency at LinkedIn and actively addresses non-productive behaviors that lead away from generating a compassion culture.

Five Tips for Cultivating Compassionate Management:

  1. Listen more than you talk. Demonstrate understanding of where the other person is coming from.
  2. Allow yourself to change your perception of the problem or person. Step in their shoes to experience and communicate empathy.
  3. Communicate your thoughts and feelings in a way that does not blame or judge the other person. Setting boundaries, communicating expectations and self-disclosure builds trust.
  4. Don’t make assumptions but instead ask questions to gain a deeper understanding, bring the person into the conversation and co-create solutions.
  5. Acknowledge the individual and show gratitude.

Coaching Questions for Your Consideration:

How do you rate yourself on the Compassionate Management scale?

Where do you need to improve your effectiveness? 

How will you begin to make progress?

For those leaders who struggle with cultivating a compassionate and respectful culture, leadership coaching is a great way to shift the behaviors that derail effectiveness.