Leading with empathy, compassion: an authentic model where work and private life are in tune with real values!
In business schools and corporate boardrooms, we were taught, or perhaps the better word is brainwashed, to lead with our heads not with our hearts. We’re expected to be tough as nails, like a first class marine sergeant completely focused on bringing-in results. We’re supposed to be these no-nonsense, don’t-mess-around-with-me- types of leaders obsessed almost with making our businesses a big success. But, following the September 11 tragedy that shattered the world, a new behavioral management pattern seems to have emerged on the business horizon. Leaders of big, prestigious companies and organizations in the US and in the western world are beginning to advocate and embrace a more humane, more compassionate kind of leadership… leading with the heart.
The Change is Happening
You see this change happening when leaders of giant firms devote precious press and radio/TV advertising budgets to either express their sorrow or empathy to families of victims of some tragic natural calamity or to express pride in the United States for some glorious, victorious event that made the country shine. You see this happening through corporate giving campaigns and fund-raising events for some lofty, noble cause rather than sell a product or a brand extolling their benefits. In a day-to-day office setting, you see this happening when the GM drops by a low rank employee’s work station to say thank you for a job well done.
No doubt, we shall see these compassionate leaders multiplying in the months and years to come. The sensitivities that come to play in this compassionate leadership are inevitably transforming into favorable, positive results.
Compassion Is In Everyone
It is from some special spot, deep within us that compassion lives. It’s a gentle force that puts other people’s needs before our own, or a soft thrust to sympathise with their needs. Such sensitivity was evidenced in former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, when, during the September 11 tragic event, he took center stage to report and update the American people almost with every minute detail, news he was able to share, day after day. Governor George Pataki offered the support of New York State to help rebuild the city. Former president Bush shared hugs and handshakes with firemen and police officers with obvious empathy. Grown men wept openly on national TV. Who knows? Perhaps it’s what triggered this new wave of leadership with heart.
Compassion is ever-present. Compassion is ever-natural. It’s not going to cost a penny to be a compassionate leader. It’s about being real and authentic with what matters to all of us.
We can help in emotional intelligence assessments, where one of the elements we measure is empathy and self-awareness.