In a world in which it can feel that everyone is watching out for number 1, it is humbling to see humanity in action. Witnessing compassion, selflessness and other altruistic behaviour in my daily life brings joy to my heart and renews my faith in humanity.
Someone once told me that it takes courage to be kind and that strong people show compassion when others around appear to have little time for it. “We’re living in the ‘real world’ and it’s tough out there”, we often hear. These statements appear to imply that in order to survive and succeed, we need to toughen up.
How does compassion fit into the ‘real world’?
Now, step forward into the workplace and that’s a whole new ball game where it can feel like a jungle and that you’re in a game of ‘survival of the fittest’. There’s something about being in the workplace that can bring out the worst in people. I say can because it is, by no means, inevitable. It really doesn’t have to be like that. The culture of an organisation is not pre-determined by what has happened before. Neither is set in stone. The organisational culture is dynamic and ever changing and is set at the top of the organisation. The leaders at the top of an organisation ‘decide’ what is acceptable and accepted and the top also decides what is not. The ‘line’ that should not be crossed must be clearly articulated and communicated by the top, in words and deeds, to all staff in the organisation. In some ways, it could be argued that it is more important to communicate what is not acceptable, than what is.
Organisational values and vision are excellent foundations to build on. However, there is a difference between saying that the expectation is that all staff will be professional and courteous to each other and saying what the consequences of not meeting these expectations will be. A quiet word or support to reflect on one’s action may be all that is required to develop our staff to be kinder, more compassionate, open-minded and tolerant of others’ views. However, it’s important to note that as leaders we must have the courage to ‘follow through’ and not leave an issue unresolved because it is uncomfortable or inconvenient to deal with it. Take counsel from more experienced leaders and seek advice from colleagues in HR when needed. Then ‘follow through’.
This is where courageously compassionate leaders are important in influencing values, attitudes, behaviours and untimely the organisational culture. Compassionate and courageous leaders are what we require. Appropriately combined, these are just two of the qualities that have the potential to empower and enable staff; engage their hearts & minds and transform the culture of an organisation. Transformational leadership in action!
Pick up the compassion and courage leadership challenge today. Inspire future leaders. Change the image of leaders.
PS. Another challenge is for us to associate with people who look, think and act differently from us. Widen your circle of exposure. It will result in even more compassion and courage.
Share your thoughts on leadership and how you have applied compassion and courage on your leadership journey.
Have a great week. 😊