The April issue of T&D contains two articles that reinforce a belief I have had for over 30 years: the hardest part about leadership is caused by the softest part—people. According to research at both the University of CA at Berkley and Stanford, a culture of compassion—in which managers and employees are friendly and empathetic, makes employees happier and more productive. In fact, Stanford has developed an 8-week compassion training course! Interesting that we have to be taught compassion and yet—our 24/7 rate and pace often leave little time for being compassionate with ourselves, much less others.
Solution: Start small:
Begin each meeting with one minute of simple breathing. No words. Mindfulness is essential for being present to oneself and others. I was astounded when I facilitated a two-day intensive senior management retreat and offered participants an optional gathering at 6:30 am to learn mindfulness techniques. All but one person came. They later said that session was personally very rewarding and one they hoped to practice.
Look for opportunities to acknowledge employees who help others out in time of need. Create a “Helping hand” time in the morning—via twitter, face-to-face meeting, internal message board, etc. that allows employees to express gratitude to someone The second article is closely related: 92% of executives interviewed by Adecco believe there is a gap in workforce skills in the US. The largest gap comes from a lack of soft skills such as communication, problem solving, and emotional intelligence.
Eighty-nine percent believe training programs could help but 42% say in-house training would be too expensive. That’s where folks like me come in. In fact, we just created a two-day training on the Art & Science of Resiliency that looks—with compassion—at individual and managerial skills in living in a complex, changing world.