The Business of Compassion

The words business and compassion are rarely found in the same sentence within the business world. The use of these two words in the same breath may cause some leaders to wince, assuming that combining them will give way to decreased performance and/or productivity. However, studies have shown that linking business and compassion has the opposite effect. Compassion is a leadership skill that can have a powerful impact on an organization.

Wikipedia defines “compassion” as follows: “Compassion motivates people to go out of their way to help the physical, mental, or emotional pains of another and themselves. Compassion is often regarded as having sensitivity, an emotional aspect to suffering, though when based on cerebral notions such as fairness, justice, and interdependence, it may be considered rational in nature and its application understood as an activity also based on sound judgment.”

It has been proven that promoting a culture of compassion rather than a culture of stress, will foster a happier workplace, improved production and increased profits. With so much time spent devoted to workloads, deadlines and dealing with interpersonal relationships in one’s business, the issue of workplace culture is often overlooked. When culture is overlooked, there is an increase in mental distress as well as a negative impact on physiological health. In sum, a happy workplace makes for happy employees, a more collaborative environment and overall improved performance.

Despite what we know about compassion management, business leaders may still interpret it as a sign of weakness. The goal of compassion management is to demonstrate empathy towards employees with the goal of fostering a great place to work. Managing with compassion shows that you are “in it to win it” with your employees, that you too will sacrifice, provide and mentor.

Managing with compassion encompasses knowing who is on your team beyond their title or function. Managers should devote time and energy to knowing their team members, their personal and professional goals, hobbies, passions and fears (as much as the employee is willing to share). The gateway to accomplishing this is, of course, communication. And lots of it.

As a manager myself, I take the time to know as much as I can about what matters most to my team. I want to know who they are beyond the title they sport or the responsibilities they carry. I want to know how they feel about their job, what we can do better as a business unit and what I can do to help them accomplish their personal and career goals. I want to make sure they know they are a critical part of a team that values their opinion and input. As a result of demonstrating compassion and fairness, employees feel loyal and committed to the business.

In today’s society, with all of the stressors that affect our daily lives, leaders who lead with compassion will reap the benefits of seeing a stronger, more loyal and committed team. Compassion is a hallmark of strong leadership. How will you lead your team to greatness?

Related content:
Are You Causing Second Hand Stress Among Your Employees?
Creating a High Trust Culture at Work
4 Steps to Emotionally Realized Rational Decisions