Most of us have experienced leaders who operate from a place of fear – whether it’s fear of losing their jobs, fear of imposter syndrome, or fear of not measuring up. And when your manager is operating from that place, it’s usually passed down to you – so you mirror those fears, and that can make for a less-than-pleasant work experience. But how can you break the cycle of fear-based management and instead offer your employees compassionate management?
Rena DeLevie, Chief Compassion Officer, created the term compassionate management when she discovered she was being a bully of a boss (her words, not ours!) and wanted to make work a pleasant place not only for her employees, but also for herself.
After operating from a place of fear for so long, she realized she wasn’t happy with the way she was acting at work and treating her employees, so she completely changed her mindset and now works to help professionals find themselves in the workplace.
So, what are her top three reasons for leaving behind fear-based management and embracing compassion?
1. Management is about how we interact with people.
When it comes down to it, Rena defines management as “how we interact with people, it’s how we react to people.” So if you’re interacting with people in a negative way and they don’t want to be around you, you’re probably not being a good manager. And yes, you might be productive, but your people are not only scared of you, but they’re probably scared of losing their jobs, which doesn’t breed loyalty to you or to the company.
2. Your work self and your true self shouldn’t be separate.
For Rena, she defined herself as a compassionate person, but she wasn’t showing that side to her employees at all. That disconnect was making her deeply unhappy because she felt she wasn’t being her authentic self (again, because of fear). When she started showing up for her employees and asking them how she could help them, she was able to be true to herself, making for a much more pleasant work experience for everyone involved.
If you think you have to be tough and stoic as a leader, Rena wants you to know that’s not true. Now, more than ever, leaders are encouraged to show more of their personalities and connect with employees.
3. Younger generations expect a different work culture.
Rena specifically works with millennials, now the largest generation in the workforce, because she genuinely loves what they’re about. And millennials are demanding a different type of work culture – as the lines are blurred between personal and professional due to technology, millennials expect more flexible work environments, leaders that understand their priorities, and corporations that go beyond the bottom line. So, if nothing else convinces you to ditch fear-based leadership, the new generation of workers should, because, as Rena says, “If you’re not willing to change how you’re working, then you may need to stop working.”
Hear from Rena on leading with compassion (but not getting walked over!) in her episode of The Growth Lab Show, and download the Lab Notes to start putting compassionate management into action right away.