Compassion Might Be The Best Management Tool

Compassion Might Be The Best Management Tool

For managers, compassion might be a much better tool than instilling fear in your employees, according to the Harvard Business Review.

Empathetic manager picture by Shutterstock

As they say, respect can be gained through love or through fear. And in a position of power, it’s probably easier in every mini situation to go the route of fear. Certainly, the other path is harder to maintain — but it’s more effective, according to a recent study.

As the article states, the natural response to an employee’s mistake is frustration. You probably would have done it right yourself, but can’t micromanage everything. It can be tempting to show everyone else what happens when you screw up.

Absolutely key, according to the research, is taking a moment before acting. This helps separate the initial human response from the reaction. After that, it’s all about empathy. Putting yourself in the employee’s shoes might help you notice something you haven’t before. Something that may have made you feel silly, had you blown up.

When as a leader you express negative emotions like anger, your employees actually view you as less effective. Conversely, being likable and projecting warmth — not toughness — gives leaders a distinct advantage, as Amy Cuddy of Harvard Business School has shown.

It’s a shame, but positions of power lower our natural empathy, so it can take a conscious effort to keep it up — especially because it’s so valuable!

Lastly, forgiveness is important.

Forgiveness not only strengthens your relationship with your employee by promoting loyalty, it turns out that it is also good for you. Whereas carrying a grudge is bad for your heart (blood pressure and heart rate both go up), forgiveness lowers both your blood pressure and that of the person you’re forgiving. Other studies show that forgiveness makes you happier and more satisfied with life, significantly reducing stress and negative emotions.

There are plenty of good links to research for the above points in the original article here.


  • It’s mystifying to me why this is news.

    People who are scared of you will comply until they don’t have to. People who respect and care for you will help you because they want to.

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