What is compassion in business?
I recently had Donato Tramuto on my podcast ‘Business Owners and Entrepreneurs with Peter Boolkah – The Transition Guy.’ We talked about the compassion leadership gap and how to close it. The 1980’s were my formative business years and the environment was not a compassionate one. Employees were often treated badly. Results were just as important as today but the way they were achieved was more by bully boy tactics and targets than by compassion or understanding. This changed as the digital era took shape around 2005. However, due to the zeitgeist we seem to be slipping back into a less compassionate way of leading and it is important we address closing the gap in compassionate leadership which seems to have grown.
What does a gap in compassionate leadership mean?
Donato Tramuto, is the author of the book ‘The Double Bottom Line’ and knows a lot about the compassion leadership gap, having conducted a survey as the basis of his book on the compassion leadership gap. His survey took in two groups of people. Firstly he interviewed 40 world leaders on how they understood and viewed compassion within their leadership skills. The second group he interviewed were 1500 random individuals selected from a database of over 500,000. Tramuto found that 84% of the respondents in the 1500 group believed that a compassionate workplace encourages cooperation, which in turn led to a greater sense of profitability and productivity. 68% believed that the workplace was more competitive than cooperative, but yet when he interviewed the 40 world leaders, they actually felt that the workplace wasn’t competitive, but highly co operative. This is where he found a gap in compassionate leadership. The two camps had different experiences of compassionate leadership.
Age gap leadership:
Another gap is undoubtedly the different expectations of leadership skills and styles between CEOs with an average age of 60+ and a workforce of generation Z and millennials. In the US, the average age of CEOs and C-suite executives is 59 years old. However 50% of the workforce is made up of individuals that are 40 years old and less. We talk about diversity but it is not just about gender and race. We must be more age inclusive. As CEOs we must not overlook the vast amount of digital and technological experience and knowledge Generation Z and millennial have to offer and how that creates value in our businesses. We live and work in a digital age now. Your business can only thrive if you surround yourself with people who can help you navigate this. The bias can work the other way of course. The younger generation must understand that they can learn from those that have years of experience.
How to be a compassionate leader:
Develop Trust. Compassionate leadership is about creating a culture of trust. All employees, whatever age must feel valued. Do not see developing the culture of your company as a tick box exercise. Talk to your people. Develop the company missions and aims with them. The remote working movement means that you have to develop trust in your employees in other ways than presenteeism in the office. In terms of leadership skills measure the output not the perceived activity. Get to know your staff. Tramuto talks about the three T’s. Tenderness to build trust and then create a tenacity within the workforce. Ask them how they are? If they’ve been sick, ask them how that felt and how it impacted them. We are hardwired to talk business straight away. Make sure your employers know they are valued and that your leadership skills project a resonance and understanding of their lives and how their work for you fits into that. There’s a strength in this way of leading.
Compassionate leadership will help you as a person:
There are clear benefits to compassionate leadership. Helping, understanding and guiding your employees is a good feeling. It helps build trust. Donato Tramuto found in his data research that 80% of leaders want to be compassionate, but they don’t know how to be. He found that compassion is empathy in action. Maya Angelo said, “People will forget about what you said. People will forget about what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Reducing the compassion leadership gap is becoming a movement. You just need a few people to affect a big change.
Compassionate leadership is a strength. To lead in this way will add value to your company. If you want to find out more about how we can help with a compassion leadership gap in your business or you want to overhaul your leadership skills let’s chat.
Remember, failing to learn is learning to fail.