Business Leadership: Is Compassion a relevant attribute?

by Administrator 05.Jan.2015 15:03:00

“Is compassion something the corporate world is interested in?” was the startling question that gave me pause during a recent consultation. The client, with an amazing academic/business pedigree and almost two decades of experience, subjectively felt that the workplace dismissed compassion as unimportant… especially in the leadership context.

We talked it over. My starting point for this sort of idea exchange is always to establish what the bottom line wish list is for any organization. We concluded that in many operational environments anything that interrupts the making of money/profit is often deemed a waste of time… and as we know Time is Money! While probably never overtly admitted, in transactional environments, compassion is indeed considered an attribute that potentially leads to tangential forays and loss of focus. Why go down that road if you don’t have to! What is in it for me?

Our conversation turned to successful organizations that did embrace compassion as an essential leadership/corporate culture ingredient. We concluded that compassion, or the desire/ability to empathize with others, resulted in a workplace that would easily:

  • Identify, accept and address problem issues… importantly human fallibility
  • Accept difference/dissent/debate as normal
  • Allow for timely intervention/fluid planning
  • Foresee and plan for unexpected or probable outcomes
  • Encourage flexible/exploratory mind sets to safely contribute ideas
  • Facilitate creative & effective hiring/professional development/succession planning
  • Evolve a business culture that sustains internal relationships/stakeholder well-being and loyalty
  • Build, in the real sense, a corporate brand and organizational reputation that deserves client/industry respect

A healthy dose of compassion will enable a Leader to:

  • Subjectively recognize who people are as individuals
  • Objectively accommodate their contribution

Simple enforcement of template driven policy and sterile job descriptions, in the context of bottom-line financial consideration is akin to running an engine without lubrication… And will surely result in long term disaster.

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