The current pandemic has taught us how important it is to live healthy and look after ourselves. It’s essential for our survival and well-being. And when I think about everything that is equally important, I am reminded of a quote from His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. In his book, The Art of Happiness, he writes “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”
Love. And compassion. 2 simple words. Deeply imbibed by the human race, needed for its existence.
But how many of us can truly live by this thought? Especially when feeling pressured, or overwhelmed or something even worse? Are leaders of today equipped with sensitivities that the workplace requires?
I’ve asked too many questions, without really making any headway. So let’s take a step back and try to look at how we can approach this.
What makes a Leader?
In my entrepreneurial journey, I’ve talked about the 6 Cs of Entrepreneurship: Curiosity, Clarity, Commitment, Conviction, Courage and Conquer. Those of us who can truly absorb these values, I believe, can go on to become leaders in their respective fields. But these are only the guiding stars that can help you in your journey. But what habits you inculcate in your journey, will shape your leadership.
At times, we might only look at the roadmap as a bunch of numbers to achieve. A few milestones to reach. Increasing revenue, or else. Yes, these things are necessary too - that’s how the market is created. But at the end of the day, we’re all humans looking to make a mark. And we cannot do that without the love that will drive us to excel, or the compassion that is essential when we may fall.
A truly great leader, already understands this. He doesn’t refer to the people of his organisations as ‘assets’ or ‘resources’ - and keeps his ‘people’ above the ‘performance’. If you already know of such leaders, congratulations. You’re blessed to be working in a great organisation. Such leaders will always value the human behind the employee number. And never vice-versa. No matter how pressurised he feels, or how angry he is seeing the sales figures.
People > Process
Let me start this section by quoting the most popular question of HR managers: Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
What HR managers are trying to figure out by asking this is quite simple. Is the person driven to excellence or is he okay with mediocrity. We all tend to think on similar lines, that driven individuals are going to take their organisations to excellence - while others might be content with mediocre work. This is where workplaces tend to begin focusing on processes. However, enforcing processes for the sake of following a process will never yield any amount of success.
Let’s ask ourselves: do we remember managers who taught us how to drive business by sticking to processes? Or do we remember those who brought out the best in us, by showing us that a better way is always possible. By opening our mind to newer possibilities and being patient yet firm.
Eventually, it will boil down to people. You can enforce processes to any degree within any organisation. But if the right people are not driving them, they aren’t going to succeed.
Success thrives when leaders are compassionate
Which brings me to my final point. I’ve had the pleasure of working with some great people before I ventured out on my own. Leaders who always took the time to sit down and have a talk. Person to person. Not manager to subordinate.
Leaders that can wear the compassion hat with ease, tend to nurture a group of people who tend to want to do more. Not because of ulterior motives like more incentives. But because they genuinely care about the vision of their leader. And they can move heaven and earth to achieve that.
You’ll find that such conducive work environments also tend to bring out the most innovative solutions to the most pressing problems. That’s because such mentors provide stability and psychological safety, which are key ingredients of a workplace to thrive.
People are building the future, not machines
While the tech industry is abuzz with AI and ML, the terms don’t mean much till you account for the fact that they were all imagined and built and perfected by humans. Those creatures who will feed on compassion and love, and will empower others in the same manner.