Arseholes make terrible leaders
First things first, let's define "Leader" for the purpose of this article: A leader is someone with responsibility for the performance of another person or group of people.
Now let's define what it is that leaders are employed to do (and for those of you who think it's to give directions to others; you're missing the point). Leaders are employed to elicit optimal performance from others. The extent to which this is done by giving direction will differ depending on circumstances unique to the business enterprise. However, one thing that will always be true is; arseholes do not elicit optimal performance from others. Therefore successful leaders adopt the principle 'don't be an arsehole'.
There is a correlation between arsehole leaders and unhappy employees. A multitude of studies over the past 20 years has shown that happy staff work harder, are more engaged, motivated and productive. Furthermore, happy staff take less unscheduled leave and are more likely to stay with their employer longer. Studies have also shown that leaders who demonstrate kindness are held in higher esteem by their staff, colleagues and superiors.
Given this research, it is clear that leaders who demonstrate toxic characteristics cannot be as effective and therefore, as competent as their kind leader counterparts.
It, therefore, follows that competent leaders must make an effort to create happy workplaces. The below principles of compassionate leadership will guide you to do just that.
A culture of unhappiness is catastrophic for productivity and an epic failure of leadership.
There are about 20 years of empirical evidence to show that happy staff are more productive and more personally invested in their organisation’s success.
People are productive when they are engaged in the work they are doing, when staff understand the ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ they produce, and organisations prosper.
To keep people engaged, leaders must understand their role in building and maintaining a healthy, vibrant, warm, welcoming culture.
Leaders must understand the importance of showing their staff they are valued. It is a financial imperative that leaders know what really matters to their staff, what they enjoy doing, and what they find frustrating. With this knowledge leaders are better able to provide a workplace where staff can operate at optimum capacity.
Compassionate leaders must not only meet the psychological needs of their staff, but they should attempt to provide environments for staff to self-actualise.
This means creating a space where staff are highly skilled, highly absorbed, have a sense of ownership and control and are challenged to grow. When this happens, work ceases to be work and becomes a pleasurable activity worth doing for its own sake.
For most of the 20th century, compassion in business has been judged as a weakness. It is, however, important not to confuse kindness with the deliberate avoidance of tackling unwelcome behaviour and the cowardice in shirking off difficult performance conversations.
Ignoring poor performance is anything but kind. It is lazy and as a consequence, selfish. Conversations designed to correct poor performance are not easy, and leaders who undertake them are kind. Those who can do so with compassion will be infinitely more effective than those who command better performance.