leading with compassion

Become a more compassionate manager with self-love meditation

Impossible deadlines. Seemingly never-ending to-do lists. A lack of autonomy. Not to mention: the pressure of feeling watched. 

There’s a chance we’ve all been managed like this at some point in our careers, and it can be an isolating experience. 

But what if we told you there’s a new model of leadership—one that prioritizes feeling empathy, showing compassion, practicing mindfulness, and doing hard work?

It’s called compassionate management, and it’s emerging as the key to building impactful and supportive teams. And if you’re curious to learn how and why, keep reading. 

What is compassionate management?

Compassionate management is a leadership style that emphasizes the leadership qualities of empathy, understanding, and support. In practice, compassionate managers in all sorts of leadership roles pay attention to the emotional and mental state of their employees or groups of people they’re working with, and they use this information to foster a more supportive work environment. 

Compassionate management is based on the theory of mind concept, or the ability to understand the mental state of others. It’s closely related to the term empathy, and it’s similar to other types of empathy, too, like affective empathy and cognitive empathy. 

You may be thinking that compassionate management is nice to have, and not essential. But here’s the truth: its benefits on employee well-being, satisfaction, and overall organizational culture are real. Employees who work for compassionate managers report higher levels of job satisfaction and well-being, and lower levels of stress and burnout. What’s more, compassionate management also leads to improved engagement, collaboration, and trust in the workplace.

How to manage with empathy

As you can see, it’s clear that being a great leader is about more than giving orders and delegating tasks. It’s also about empathy, compassion, and the ability to build positive relationships with employees. If you’re looking to develop those skills, you’re in the right place. Here are some quick tips to get you started: 

  1. Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness will help you pay attention to the mental and emotional state of others and remain present in the moment. When you are mindful, you are able to listen to your employees' concerns and needs, address them in a timely manner, and create an atmosphere of trust and respect.
  2. Develop empathy: Empathy is another key component of compassionate leadership, helping you build relationships with your employees and creating a supportive work environment. That’s because when you’re empathetic, you’re able to understand employees' perspectives, communicate effectively, and create a culture of collaboration and support.
  3. Learn body language: Body language can be more important than you might think. Psychology says that when you notice signals such as body language and facial expressions, your brain uses mirror neurons to actually feel what others are feeling. 
  4. Try meditation: Meditation can help you manage stress, increase self-awareness, and improve your ability to focus on the present moment. By incorporating meditation practices into your workday and daily routine, you can cultivate a sense of calmness and clarity that can benefit both yourself and your employees.

So, what can that look like in your day-to-day? Here are some more practical tips for incorporating compassionate management practices into your daily routine:

  • Take a few minutes each day to meditate or practice deep breathing exercises. (The Balance app is a good place to start.) 
  • Be present in meetings and actively listen to employees. (In other words, let them share their thoughts before jumping in to respond. And when you do, try to restate what you heard in your own words so your employees feel listened to.)
  • Take breaks throughout the day to clear your mind and reduce stress levels. (We know this is easier said than done, but it makes a big difference.)

How compassionate management can produce productivity

Think about a manager that you haven’t liked working for. Chances are, they didn’t display much empathy or compassion. When managers try to control their employees through fear or intimidation, it never really works. Turnover and burnout rates increase, as does resentment.

Compassionate leadership matters because it leads to a more positive and productive work environment. Employees will trust you more if you show empathy and compassion instead of trying to control them. If you lead by example, your team will learn to care about each other, and they're more likely to believe in the company's vision if they feel like you believe in them.

When you show empathy and compassion toward your employees, it sends the message that they are valued and respected. And in turn, you receive increased trust and loyalty from employees, which contributes to workplace communication, collaboration, and satisfaction.

Another benefit of compassionate leadership? It fosters a sense of community within the workplace. In an environment where people care about each other, it's a lot easier for employees to also care about their work. This helps them generate work that they’re proud of and passionate about.

In summary, compassionate leadership matters because it works. It builds trust, promotes positive influence, fosters community within the workplace, and encourages buy-in to the company vision. And one of the Balance app's expert meditation coaches, Leah Santa-Cruz, agrees: "This kind of leadership isn't just nice; it's a must-have for creating a team that sticks together, innovates and gets stuff done."

Use self-love meditation to become a better manager

It might not be easy at first, but by taking small steps towards cultivating these skills every day, you will realize the long-term benefits of becoming a more compassionate and effective leader.

Being a compassionate leader and developing empathy pay off in numerous ways, both in your organization and in life outside of work. It helps you show up as your best self: calm, compassionate, and empowered to effectively handle any challenges that may arise.  

And, hey, iIt might not be easy at first, but by taking small steps toward cultivating these skills every day, you’ll realize the long-term benefits of becoming a more compassionate leader. And your employees will, too. 

So if you’re ready to start becoming a more compassionate leader, a tool like the Balance app can be one of your best resources. Balance, available on iOS or Android, offers a library of personalized meditations and research-backed guidance to help you improve well-being as a manager, find your calm in high-stress work situations, and develop empathy toward your employees. Plus, it’s completely free for your entire first year.

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