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  • Writer's pictureThriving Teams Institute

Leading with Compassion




As human beings, we are wired for connection. For supervisors and managers, the ability to build empathy with employees in their teams is essential to managing team dynamics and practicing effective leadership. Knowing how another person feels and sensing those feelings is critical to connecting with and inspiring others.


Engaging and listening to employees in the workplace is one way to find out about their experiences and how they are doing and feeling. Engaging people directly will reveal their values and what they are thinking to lead to a better understanding of them, which will give insights for future interactions.


A leader’s job is to get results, and they accomplish this by leading with emotional intelligence and designing and shaping a team environment where their team members can learn, innovate, and thrive. Once leaders have built empathy with their employees and understand them, they can lead with compassion.

You might be thinking, “What does compassion have to with leadership?” and maybe, “If we show compassion, that could be perceived as a sign of weakness.” Not at all. If managers and supervisors understand how their direct reports are feeling in the moment, such as maybe they are frustrated about something, then leading with compassion is the act of taking positive action to help that person. Leading with compassion is acting on empathy. It is leading with emotional intelligence.


One example of leading with compassion is in the area of providing performance feedback to employees. If an employee is struggling performance-wise, it can be frustrating for both the employee and supervisor. From a leadership perspective, getting frustrated with the employee who is frustrated doesn’t help improve the situation. The employee is already in a negative emotional state, and voicing frustration with them will further put them in a defensive mindset where they are in “fight or flight” mode. They will either push back or withdraw. On the other hand, if the supervisor acknowledges and manages their frustration with the direct report and then strives to understand what they are feeling and experiencing, they can take positive action to help the employee. Coaching the employee into a solution that works for them or providing advice on how to solve the problem are examples of compassion and responding positively to improve the situation.


Leading and responding with compassion, rather than acting out of frustration, creates conditions for actual communication and collaboration in the workplace and other environments. We have a choice in how we interact with others. Leading with compassion takes courage but produces far better outcomes than acting with frustration and provides a more positive experience for all in the workplace, which is critical to leveraging the full potential of the human talent in an organization.


We can help you improve the emotional intelligence of your team.


Thriving Teams Institute is ready to help you and your team understand how you experience each other, and how you can improve your emotional intelligence to obtain a more positive work environment which leads to better business results.


We offer the following emotional intelligence assessments:


EQ-I 2.0 Awareness into Emotional Intelligence

Strongly rooted in the scientific method, the EQ-I 2.0 assessment uses 15 distinct EQ competencies, which are categorized into 5 composites (self-perception, self-expression, interpersonal, decision making, and stress management). Implicitly understanding strengths and weaknesses is critical to developing stronger emotional intelligence within multiple personality facets.


EQ-1 2.0 360 Leader 360 Similar to the above assessment, the EQ 360 leadership assessment determines emotional intelligence capabilities but also incorporates the insights of others in your professional sphere, such as managers, subordinates, and colleagues. This is an integral part of the team 360 approach, because it encompasses a fuller perspective. By determining how a person is perceived, they will have a stronger grasp of their true emotional intelligence.


ESCI 360 (Emotional and Social Competency Inventory) Leader and Team 360

This assessment focuses on 12 leadership competencies, including emotional self-awareness, emotional self-control, achievement orientation, positive outlook, adaptability, empathy, organizational awareness, influence, coach and mentor, conflict management, inspirational leadership, and teamwork. People who exhibit a grasp over these competencies typically perform most impressively in the workplace.




You can learn more about our team development courses here.


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