The last year has been full of struggles and challenges for all of us both personally and in the workplace. We’ve all learned a great deal about ourselves that will help us through the pandemic — life lessons that will stick with us far beyond.
For those of us in leadership roles, we’ve learned just as much about others. The way employees think, act, and communicate — and how those affect the people they work with.
Personally, I’ve realized just how important it is to practice compassionate leadership with those I work with on a regular basis. Being a compassionate leader demonstrates to your employees that you understand and care about their situation and their needs. Whether your team works remotely or in person, knowing and acting on what they’re experiencing allows you to form a solid connection that will ultimately will benefit you, them, and your entire organization.
Here are 4 incredibly easy ways to become a more compassionate leader overnight.
1) Be proactive
Being proactive when it comes to your employees’ well-being is a good way to connect and plan ahead. Schedule a meeting with 3-4 of your employees each week to check in and see how they’re doing. This can be done remotely or in-person depending on your work set-up.
Taking the time to actively engage with your employees not only shows you care, but it opens the door to identify exactly what they need from you to do better.
2) Be attentive
Paying attention to your employees is crucial to compassionate leadership, whether you are interacting with them in-person or virtually. How are they doing? Do they look distracted? Are they stressed or less responsive than usual? Are they being productive or getting less work done than usual? Paying attention to your employees is the best way to get to know your employees and understand what they are capable of.
Over time, you can get a sense of how someone is doing simply by paying attention to give you a good indication of how they are doing. Asking yourself questions like those above can allow you to identify potential issues before they become major pain points.
3) Be supportive
When you check in with your employees, being supportive can really help you get to the bottom of how they’re doing. We all ask the “How’s it going?” question on a daily basis. But when you get the usual “I’m fine,” it’s time to dig deeper. None of us are “fine” all of the time, especially in this day and age. We all have things that bother us — stress and anxiety about everything from COVID, to money, to family.
You might be surprised how much employees open up just by showing them that you want to understand what they’re going through. The simple act of offering support, being there as someone to talk to, can have a profound impact on their emotional and mental health. Demonstrating that you care how they really feel is a sure way to immediately become a more compassionate leader.
4) Be tough
Being tough is often misunderstood, even by those we generally consider to be great leaders. At one point in my career, I supervised a young man who I knew had a lot of potential. I was tough on him because I wanted to see him grow, both personally and professionally. When he made mistakes, I encouraged him to figure out what went wrong and how he could do better in the future.
Sometimes I worried that I was too tough on him, and when I ultimately left that position, I did not expect to hear from him again. Shortly after leaving, however, I received a beautiful letter thanking me for helping and guiding him during our time together.
In my mind, all I did was hold him accountable — but it taught him how to be accountable to himself. And he became a stronger person because of it. Showing kindness and compassion through “tough love” can be a great tool to help the people around you succeed.
Why does being a compassionate leader matter?
Being a compassionate leader not only shows your employees that you care about their well being, but also can benefit your business as well. Employees who feel connected and cared for are more likely to feel more confident and motivated, helping them work harder and smarter.
When I was an employee, I would go above and beyond for an employer that showed that they cared about me as a person, and not just a cog in a giant machine.
Compassionate leadership is an important component in addressing concerns with engagement or productivity, before they become a major issue. Connecting on a deeper level with your employees allows you to identify tension and distraction within your workforce before they impact your workflow. If you need help, employee engagement surveys can help you identify specific problems and where they are festering.
We know that becoming a compassionate leader and executing these strategies can be easier said than done — but that’s why we’re here. Let’s have a free virtual conversation to help you figure out what you can do to become a more compassionate leader, a better boss, and more valuable to your organization.