How to Be a More Compassionate Leader During the Pandemic

Thoughtful communication is key.

shurkin_son / Shutterstock
shurkin_son / Shutterstock

In times of crises, compassionate leadership is more important than ever. As you navigate this pandemic, going the extra mile to lead with your head and your heart when communicating with your team can make a big difference. In fact, bringing empathy and kindness into your management style can have a profound impact not just on how your team members feel, but also how they work.

In order for employees to perform to their best ability, they need to feel psychologically safe and supported. “Make sure to prioritize ‘connection’ with your colleagues over ‘correction’ of everything they are doing or not doing,” writes Nihar Chhaya, an executive coach, in Forbes magazine.

And get curious about your colleagues’ lives and any challenges they’re facing — while also being willing to be authentic about how you’re doing during this time. Taking a genuine interest in people “makes them aware that they are truly part of the company, that who they are and their contributions are appreciated and valued,” says Carmen Castillo, Chairwoman of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) and CEO of SDI International Corp. What’s more, “it inspires loyalty.” 

Here are three simple steps to help you lead with more compassion:

Before discussing work with colleagues, ask how they’re doing.

Showing teammates respect and interest in their personal lives increases emotional well-being and boosts happiness. 

Practice active listening.

Resist the urge to interrupt someone on your team who is sharing something vulnerable, even if your intention is to be helpful. A study published in the International Journal of Listening shows that when people were met with active listening, they felt more understood than participants who received advice. 

Express your gratitude.

These are tough times, and acknowledging that things aren’t “business as usual” can go a long way toward fostering trust within your organization. Expressing gratitude toward your team members and thanking them for their contributions is a great habit for compassionate leaders to build —  in fact showing gratitude can lead to greater motivation and improved performance while assuring people that they matter. 

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