It is a common theme which is often discussed; the fact that so many talk about leadership but really little has been understood from the pandemic. There are still companies who want to demand that their teams return to the office without really understanding why so many have opted to stay away. Until a new narrative in leadership is developed and is more consistent then it will take the 3-5 years forecast for numbers to return to workplaces.
However, change will come as leaders now need to think very carefully about the challenges facing their teams. If the average energy bill does reach the £3,800 mark forecast last week, how will this impact? Already there are stories emerging of how so many families are struggling as it is today, in the summer months, how will they face the winter? Rail fares are being forecast to rise by a potential 12% and petrol is expected to remain at the £1.85 per litre mark.
Some are forecasting that it will all force employees back to the office but this not really the mind-sets required; the real question is how can companies support their people?
With the need to talk to and develop far stronger relationships with new labour audiences, the challenge for all leaders is to be able to show real change, real understanding and authenticity in approach.
Many write about the rise of compassionate leadership, some in a patronising tone, some as though it indicates a rise in feminism as though that is a problem. There is, as with all things, a lot of ill-considered features written, for the real focus of compassionate leadership is that it illustrates that leadership is there for and accessible to all.
Compassionate leadership involves a focus on relationships through careful listening, understanding, empathising with and supporting other people, enabling those we lead to feel valued, respected and cared for, so they can reach their potential and do their best work. There is clear evidence that compassionate leadership results in more engaged and motivated staff with high levels of wellbeing, which in turn results in high-quality care.
As people face some stern challenges over the next months, they need to know that leaders will be there for them and that they care.
A number of companies are making strong returns and profits. Teams are going to need to see those profits result in stronger investment back into building culture and inclusivity. There is no more space for good talk and little action.
Over the last twenty years, many have focused more on internal processes and hierarchies than one either building trust with their people or with their clients. This will have to change as otherwise clients and employees will be lost.
Compassionate leaders don’t have all the answers and don’t simply tell people what to do, instead they engage with the people they work with to find shared solutions to problems. The arrogance of leadership often seen needs to soften and be far more open.
For leadership to be compassionate, it must also be inclusive and all boundaries are broken down. This creates an inclusive, psychologically safe environment in which diversity in all forms is valued and team members can contribute creatively and enthusiastically to team performance.
It has been so evident that so many have struggled over many years to sustain inclusive, people-centred cultures and for fair reason. Behaviours have not been good enough. It is now a moment for a new narrative and for genuine change to happen.