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Compassionate leadership

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By Barbara Mutedzi

I sat in a training beginning of this week, where I felt the trainer was asking questions, not only to gain your contribution but to find ways to shoot you down.

It felt condescending, really uncomfortable and just not okay. Now the instant reaction to being attacked, is our mental faculties get ready for battle. Since we are not in a physical war, this can easily become a verbal battle.

It takes a lot of effort to constantly remind oneself the reason why you are there. This unfortunately removes from the need to use your energy into absorbing the actual material being shared.

What this experience reiterated in me, was the need for more compassionate leadership in actual action.

Compassion leadership in action


Be kind. Speak to people’s truths and strengths. Help them see themselves in a better light. Congratulate and identify ways you can help them get to where they need to be. Contribute.

Be friendly to those around, don’t put people in the hot seat without their permission. Clear communication with the other is so important.

Listen, really listen to understand


Don’t listen to respond. Practice this. Saying you will do these, is so easy. It’s less than 10% compared to actually practicing this. Producing a conducive environment for innovation and higher level contribution from those we lead, requires us to actually be that environment.

When people feel psychologically safe, they free up their emotional and mental capacities to positively contribute. When we trust, we let down our internal armors and we collaborate. Trust is important.

The Neuroscience of Trust


Distrust increases activation of the negative emotions associated with fear. This increases activation of stress hormones in the body. The longer the presence of stress hormones in one’s body, the long-term poor health of the employee.

Long term effects of stress hormones contribute to: lower self-esteem and decreased productivity, rapid weight gain, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, skin changes, muscle weakness, mood swings, anxiety, depression or irritability.

Long-Term adverse effects of stress


The long -term adverse health challenges the employee has, the less they can positively contribute to the organization.

Energy that could be allocated to the frontal cortex for logical planning and acting is reduced. Productivity and creativity decrease.

Trust increases productivity, creativity and attention


When employees know that they are taken care of and so free up for the energy for the logical, forward planning of the frontal cortex.

There is increased use of the left hemisphere of the brain which is associated with: high self-esteem and proactivity in solving challenges; reduces the need for micromanagement, meaning that leaders of organizations are freed up to concentrate on the long-term vision, strategy and trajectory of the organization; reduces top down management and leadership which is time consuming and reduces the effectiveness of an organization; increased teamwork because each employee is comfortable in their work.

This in turn:


Increases productivity and an environment of learning and sharing; feel good hormones such as oxytocin are elevated; overall health of the organization and the employees increases; increased attendance to work as part of a team; creativity, communication & collaboration are elevated as a result of all the above.

The more we are engaged, the more we contribute, the higher our performance, the more impact we make on our customers and the more profit we attract as a result.

Barbara Mutedzi is a life and leadership coach

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Start: 2019-07-01 End: 2019-07-31