AOH Recap // Why Compassionate Leadership in Business Makes Sense
Think about your career. Think about the best manager or leader you ever had and the traits that come to mind when considering what made these leaders exceptional.
Chances are that these leaders bore descriptors such as passionate, trustworthy, calm in the face of adversity, present, connected, sensitive, service-oriented, empathetic, and encouraging.
Any of these could be used to describe a compassionate leader. Hardly do we get leaders who are compassionate.
Most leaders focus on company issues that drive revenue and make financial sense. However if maybe we became a little bit more compassionate with our employees then we could end up saving on revenue and also have a lower turnover in our organizations!
What is compassionate leadership?
Compassionate leadership is defined as a leadership style that involves a focus on relationships through careful listening to, understanding, empathizing with, and supporting other people, enabling those we lead to feeling valued, respected and cared for, so they can reach their potential and do their best work.
In our last After Office Hours session, Jack Hartpence spoke about compassion as a leadership style among other things, and here is a recap of the session:
Where it all started
As odd as it sounds from middle school Jack always knew that he wanted to be an entrepreneur. He started an organization with his mum at an early age making him realize that he always had an entrepreneurial spirit.
The organization he started then was called Operation Carepackage. They collected backpacks, refurbished them, and loaded them with school supplies. Overtime though, he ventured into other things and later on had an experience that rekindled his passion for entrepreneurship & not just entrepreneurship but entrepreneurship with purpose
Getting into PowWater
After his education, Jack got into US Politics working with the US think tanks during campaigns. However, one day on his way from work he was T-boned by a tractor-trailer.
“As I saw the truck coming and realized I was going to die, the only thing that came to my mind was one question: What have I done positively for the world and other people?” Hartpence said.
Walking away from the accident unscathed, Hartpence felt that he had been given a second chance to answer that question. He used his previous experience with research and data to determine where the world struggled most.
“Water is the world’s most pressing problem,” Hartpence said. “Sustainable access to safe drinking water is the foundation for quality of life on earth today. With access to safe drinking, communities can move to address secondary and tertiary quality of life indicators such as gender equality, economic opportunity, education, and health.”
In 2018, he co-founded PowWater, a public benefit corporation that builds transparent technology and makes impact investments to improve access to clean water in East Africa and South Asia and empower the communities which they serve.
PowWater is building the most trusted water supply in the world through Quality, reliability, and trust. PowWater is guided by four values. Challenge, transparency, compassion, and trust.
A lot of CEOs want to only follow up on things that make sense financially and so if it doesn’t make sense for revenue and retention they end up being dismissed.
What’s really interesting is the data around compassionate leadership, One thing we have learned is that actual organizations that have compassionate leaders make more money and have higher retention.
So how can one turn out to be a compassionate leader, Jack explained that as a leader, compassion starts from within and trying to figure out why you are suffering.
Also carrying out quality checks with employees, and trying to figure out the challenges they face in their personal life and what their dreams are.
“As an entrepreneur, if your teammates don’t achieve their dreams, you won’t achieve yours!,” he said.
Jack also said that compassion is actually in its infancy in most global businesses however over time we will see growth as the goal; for any company is to grow value for the shareholders and one way to achieve this is through compassion.
So why are compassionate leaders so important? When employees feel a lack of commitment to compassionate leadership and intense pressure from leadership to perform above and beyond their capabilities, these feelings open the door to widespread disengagement.
The Benefits Of A Compassionate Corporate Culture
To prevent these adverse outcomes and build a productive workforce, leaders need to recognize and honor their employees’ shared humanity instead of treating them as a means to an end. Compassion means not only caring about one another but also acting accordingly.
As a manager, the more you nurture those around you and demonstrate compassion and empathy to the teams you manage, the more your employees will want to accomplish for both the team and the organization.
Leaders who lack compassion often falsely believe that the more pressure they place on their employees, the more productive they will become.
Advice to entrepreneurs
On his advice to entrepreneurs, Jack only had one word- Resilience! As an entrepreneur, you need resilience as you are set to face a lot of challenges and problems throughout the journey.
The life of an entrepreneur is as you scale your problems become bigger and bigger.
One of our investors says that as an entrepreneur you just need to be the cockroach and survive everything. Your job is to survive, give value and keep going.
Ps: You can now watch the event highlight video on our youtube channel below.