Before the coronavirus crisis hit, people were all too willing to work in toxic environments for pennies on the dollar, all because they felt they had to.
As a result, many ended up spending their nine-to-five putting up with abusive bosses, hostile co-workers, and overwhelming pressure.
While the pandemic has brought with it a great deal of darkness and loss, one silver lining is that it’s shown people that this way of working is entirely unsustainable. And, not only that, but workers have also realised they have far more power than they thought they did, playing a vital role as they do in the smooth-running of the companies for which they work.
Now, people are finally expecting to be treated with respect and dignity in the workplace. This is forcing a long-overdue shift towards a new paradigm of leadership.
What the new paradigm is all about
This new paradigm is all about embracing empowerment and compassion. As someone who spent many years at the start of my career standing firm in the face of venomous managers and bosses, I know just how valuable these two components can be in any working environment.
Compassion, in particular, can have a potent impact on any organisation. Unfortunately, it is often dismissed as a weak concept peddled by pushovers. On the contrary, compassion requires diligence and attention to detail on the part of the person practising it. Only when compassion is put to good use in the workplace can employees begin to feel empowered and, by extension, positive and motivated.
Now, in my role as a business mentor, this is exactly what I teach to business leaders who have lost their way.
Putting the new paradigm into practice
To give you a better idea of what this new paradigm of leadership looks like in action, here are some of the key things required of the compassionate and empowering leaders of tomorrow.
Self-compassion comes first
Something I’ve noticed during my time as a coach is that you simply cannot offer compassion to others if you do not give it to yourself. So, first and foremost, it is time for leaders to prioritise self-compassion.
For one thing, this allows them to open the door to a more intuitive, empathetic approach, both of which are qualities so often lacking in leadership roles. For another, and more importantly, it will give leaders a chance to address their own personal trauma they have buried down deep. It allows them to recognize both their own triggers and projections, as well as that of their team. So, while it sounds scary, addressing personal trauma allows leaders to utilize their intuition and connect to their compassion more completely.
Once they do that, they can shift out of behaviours that drive them to mistreat their staff.
The idea that leaders have to take responsibility might not sound all that new. However, I’ve found that very few leaders fully understand, and therefore rarely acknowledge, the power of their words and actions, particularly with regards to how they affect the people around them. Doing so requires a different level of responsibility.
Moving forward, higher-ups who take the time to recognise, understand, and therefore manage the power of what they say and do will be ahead of the pack. They will make the conscious decision to start utilising language that empowers their employees. In other words, they will take responsibility for their impact on others. After all, empowered workers are far more likely to commit, care, and create new successes for the businesses they work for.
Promoting a healthy working environment
In addition to feeling empowered, workers deserve to feel appreciated and are more likely to produce good work if they do. So, creating a healthy working environment is of the utmost importance. This entails allowing for mistakes without fear of retribution, and creating an environment where blame, shame and guilt have no role.
Also, make sure that every individual in a team feels heard, seen, and valued. So, take the time to listen. Leaders that do very often find that compassionate communication has the power to transform the way their organisation runs.
Conflict in the workplace is inevitable. However, if left unchecked, it can become quite toxic, causing workers to completely disengage. In our new paradigm, then, leaders must make it a priority to address conflict as it occurs. One way is to utilize compassionate inquiry; the asking of open-ended questions.
This mode of communication, of inquiry, lets those involved know that there is no intent to lay blame, shame, and guilt. Addressing conflict in this way allows for authentic communication which allows for connection.
The role of integrity
The above are all crucial elements of a new paradigm of leadership. To bring it all together, one must have, identify with and value integrity. While many people say they have integrity, when challenged, when questioned, or when boundaries aren’t clear, their integrity becomes muddied.
Leaders with a clear definition of what integrity means to them are better equipped to handle the challenges that come from stepping into compassionate leadership, the new paradigm of leadership.
The future of leadership
Ultimately, for leaders to get the best out of their employees in a post-Covid world, a person-centric approach is not just recommended but absolutely essential.
Employees are finally beginning to realise that both themselves and their employees deserve better. Create the sort of environment that values compassion and empowerment above all else and you’ll be sure to reap the benefits for all involved.
About the author
As the owner and CEO of two businesses, Transformational Leadership Coach René Murata knows a thing or two about guiding with both purpose and compassion. Working to encourage more women to speak out and take charge, she hopes to show that collaboration and cooperation definitely do have a place in decisive leadership.
If you are a job seeker or someone looking to boost their career, then WeAreTheCity has thousands of free career-related articles. From interview tips, CV advice to training and working from home, you can find all our career advice articles here.