Excerpt: Weekend reading: Making it work
The below is an excerpt from the New York Times' DealBook: Business & Policy from Friday, January 14th, 2022.
Weekend reading: Making it work
The pandemic has changed the power dynamics of the workplace. Leaders can’t offer certainty, tolerance for jerks is waning and resignations are on the rise. That makes management harder and more important than ever, argues Jacqueline Carter of the Potential Project, a leadership development firm that aims to “make work feel more human,” with clients like Accenture, Bloomberg and Cisco.
In a new book, “Compassionate Leadership: How to Do Hard Things in a Human Way,” Carter and her colleague Rasmus Hougaard surveyed thousands of executives, managers and employees to find out what qualities leaders need today. DealBook spoke to Carter about their findings. The interview has been edited and condensed.
What constitutes effective leadership now?
Previously, people were told or thought they could not be compassionate. But the scientific data shows we’re wired to connect and that this is an important element of leading effectively. Our research and that of others shows objectively that compassion combined with wisdom helps leaders get better results. It’s not only nice to be nice and wise. It works for productivity.
How do you define compassion?
People can make the mistake of thinking it’s simply saying, “I feel your pain.” That’s empathy, which leaders do need but can be a trap, because it suggests you know something about another’s experience that you may not, particularly in a diverse workplace. Also, we tend to empathize with people who are like us, so it can have limits.
Compassion, on the other hand, triggers a different neurological response. It feels good and shifts perspective. Compassion is asking, “How can I be of benefit?” Compassion is about action, which may include inaction. Sometimes you don’t have an answer but can offer transparency. It’s an intention to be of service.
How is compassion cultivated?
Mantras can help anchor behavior, like the question “How can I be of service?” or the reminder “Clarity is kindness.” Recognize you’re on a journey that doesn’t end. Pause. Be thoughtful. Articulate intentions, then see how things land. Question your assumptions and ask others lots of questions.
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