We often hear that empathy is a key leadership skill. Empathising as a leader enables you to relate to the challenges of your employees; you can feel the impact of the struggles they face, whether that be in their personal or professional life.
However, an empathetic approach can result in leaders getting wrapped up in struggling alongside their team members, instead of acknowledging these issues, stepping away from the emotions involved and asking, “what steps can I take to help with these pressures”. Adopting a compassionate leadership style approach allows leaders to take their empathy a step further by committing to helping their team members to find tangible solutions.
HOW CAN YOU BECOME A COMPASSIONATE LEADER?
It is vital to create a safe place for your team members to communicate challenges they may be facing. When a team member comes to speak with you about challenges they may be facing, adopt the following approach:
Presence: create a safe space for your team members to speak to you if and as they need. Make it clear that you are listening by writing notes or echoing what is said without giving opinion until they have finished speaking.
Understanding: open a dialogue when they have told you their issue. You can also make them aware that you understand what they are saying by paraphrasing their comments and simply asking, “am I understanding this right?”
Empathising: communicate that you acknowledge what they are feeling.
Helping: take action to help address and resolve the issue. This may mean identifying a team member that can help alleviate duties that are causing the employee to be stressed. Perhaps your employee needs time off; devise an action plan of who will look after which projects or priorities while the employee is off and let them know you will only communicate with the team what is necessary for them to know to help support their colleague.
COMPASSIONATE LEADERSHIP: GOOD FOR YOUR BUSINESS
Many studies link a compassionate leadership style to team member’s loyalty. By visibly valuing your employee’s happiness, they will feel more engaged with you as a leader, allowing for deeper connections to be established. This fosters trust and commitment towards the overall company, allowing for better collaboration amongst colleagues and lower turnover overall.