Compassionate Leadership

What Makes A Leader Great?

Ask folks to list the qualities of a leader, and the adjectives and descriptive phrases will flow fast and free. Smart, decisive, confident, a visionary who's effective at reaching goals, increasing profits, and expanding the company's reach top the list. We could fill a page with these lofty yet necessary leadership attributes, those characteristics that come from the head.

But there's another set of traits just as essential to successful leadership. Things like being a "people person," having excellent communication skills, possessing emotional intelligence (EQ), being self-aware and mindful of one's surroundings, and having a compassionate spirit. Being well versed in these "attributes of the heart" will enable a leader to excel.

If you want to improve your leadership abilities and take your execution to the next level—and what leader doesn't/shouldn't—it's time to inventory those attributes that spring from the heart. Why? Because for too long, head attributes received the lion's share of the attention. Being a "people person" did and does get some mileage, but the head traits noted above have been people's primary concern. And as a result, most of today's leaders do indeed excel at the "head stuff."

But more and more, it's becoming apparent that the most effective, dynamic leaders have as much heart as they do the knowledge, skills, and traits traditionally associated with great leaders. And for some of those considered to be the cream-of-the-crop, the scales tip decidedly toward heart attributes and people know-how. Those are the men and women whose leadership approach flows from a wellspring of compassion.

So, what does it mean to be a compassionate leader in the world of healthcare?

A compassionate leader sees beyond profit margins, balance sheets, staffing schedules, and inventory levels. Instead, they purposefully direct their attention to the individuals who strive for profit, the people whose efforts are reflected on the balance sheet, and the employees who keep the day-to-day operations running like a well-oiled machine.

Kindness and thoughtfulness drive their interactions with people. They are "tuned-in," mindful of the lives and experiences of those under their leadership. Compassionate leaders are both familiar with and comfortable with sympathy and empathy. Their depth of understanding goes well below the surface level acknowledgment of, "Yeah, he's got it rough." Compassionate leadership recognizes that every team member is not only a significant individual but an essential thread in the fabric of an entire organization. They understand that how well leadership supports their workforce and provides the resources that will enable them to excel hugely impacts their happiness and well-being.

Considering the extraordinarily challenging times that the healthcare industry weathered these past two years; a compassionate leadership model should be a priority in every facility and organization. With healthcare staffing at such critically low levels, no facility can afford not to prioritize every employee's emotional, mental, and physical well-being. Leadership must first recognize the enormous toll these times have taken and then be committed to initiating processes and procedures that will help lessen stress, lighten the load, offer tangible support, and promote dialogue and wellness.

Compassionate leadership will net the prize as we continue to navigate these challenging times.


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LeaderStat specializes in direct care staff, interim leadership, executive recruitment, travel nursing and consulting for healthcare organizations nationwide.