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Submitted by the USPS Employee Assistance Program
Take a moment and think about the teachers and managers you have had over your lifetime. What qualities stick out in your mind? You may notice the best teachers and managers you ever had led you to believe you were the best student or best employee they ever had.
Most likely, you found yourself wanting to work hard to please them and prove you had earned their positive opinion of you. What is so great about a leader who leads with kindness, compassion and believes in their employees?
You might think a manager who yells, screams and micromanages is the one who is going to squeeze the most work out of their employees. But you would be wrong. It’s the leader who believes in their employees and is able to communicate that to them who always will achieve the best results in the end.
Lead with kindness and your employees will want to work hard for you, make you look good and respect you. They will do all those things that you’ve always wanted your employees to do.
Benefits of being a compassionate leader
Leaders who dare to show compassion often are rewarded with team members’ loyalty. Compassionate leaders tend to have teams with increased levels of engagement and more people willing to follow them.
Often, when leaders gain more responsibility and more power in an organization, they can become distracted, stressed and may miss observable changes in their team. As a result, these leaders may be less likely to tune in to others’ concerns. No matter your title or responsibilities, it’s important to pay attention to your employees’ concerns and address them appropriately.
Compassionate leaders create work environments where there is harmony and cohesiveness among the employees. This, in turn, creates an environment where employees go the extra mile and work together to get the job done. The time invested in leading with compassion and kindness creates a high-functioning, effective and successful work team.
Building commitment is necessary to success; it’s easier to build loyalty if you are a compassionate and kind leader. A leader who can demonstrate awareness and show empathy for their team members will help encourage their commitment. If you want your employees to help you succeed, you must show them you care for them, too.
People often will stay in a bad job with a good manager and leave a good job because of a difficult manager. It’s an unfortunate truth that a lot of employees quit their jobs because of their bosses. When you have a compassionate supervisor or manager, your employees are more likely to stick around. If you believe in them, your employees will, more than likely, believe in you.
What does leading with compassion and kindness look like?
A compassionate leader uses empathy by putting themselves in their employees’ shoes to try and understand their perspective. It can be helpful to think about other roles you have had before becoming a leader to remember what it’s like to be in that role. The compassionate leader has the desire to improve their employees’ situation by lending a hand to help pull them up.
Leading with compassion and kindness means treating everyone you encounter with dignity, respect and kindness. It basically comes down to treating people right. Dr. Carl Rogers was an American psychologist who believed in having an equal relationship with those he was trying to help. He believed the three core values of empathy, congruence and unconditional positive regard are essential for leaders in all roles and professions.
Empathy means you try to put yourself in another person’s shoes and work on seeing things from their perspective. Congruence is being genuine and real. Unconditional positive regard means that, although you may have judgment about someone’s behavior, you value them as a fellow human being; you look for the goodness in each employee you encounter. An important tool in leading with compassion is using emotional intelligence, which involves self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills. Emotionally intelligent leaders can identify emotions in themselves and others and learn how to tap into emotional data to inform their leadership decisions.
They strive to understand and manage emotions. They might share their own emotions in a thoughtful way in the service of transparency. Employees are more likely to follow a leader about whom they care.
The mindset you are striving for is a win-win. When you get a win-win in a conversation, everyone feels good and you each can move forward with good feelings.
You can set an intention to have a win-win the next time you are facing a challenging communication. Even if your employee might not want to hear the “bad news” about what you expect from them, you can communicate in a way that shows that you have compassion and respect for that employee as a person and you value their contribution to the organization.
Try being a compassionate and kind leader by adopting the following practices:
If you would like to learn more about honing effective leadership skills, you might find it helpful to explore MyStrength, which can be found at EAP4YOU.com. MyStrength is an online wellness tool that is free to all postal employees, including managers. MyStrength can help you stay calm and centered so you can come from a place of kindness, focus and compassion when you meet with your employees.
MyStrength has videos, exercises and affirmations. All the content is evidence-based, which means it is proven to be effective. Once you sign up, MyStrength is a lifetime benefit that is free and confidential.
You can request a MyStrength life coach who can guide you to MyStrength activities that are right for you. Each activity takes about five or 10 minutes so they are easy to fit into your day.
If you need to gather yourself before meeting with a difficult employee, take five minutes to do a MyStrength exercise. You might be surprised at how much better you feel and how effective you are communicating with your employee.
Your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provides executive coaching services confidentially and always free of charge. Consider taking advantage of USPS EAP coaching with your local district EAP consultant or clinician. Coaching can be a valuable resource in helping you reach your professional goals, including honing your skills to fully becoming a compassionate and effective leader.
Leading with compassion and kindness is not only doable, it’s also a very effective method of leadership. For more information, please contact your EAP, available 24/7, by calling 1-800-327-4968 (1-800-EAP-4YOU); TTY: 877-492-7341. You also can find more information by contacting your local EAP consultant or visiting EAP4YOU.com.
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