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Via Forbes : The Response To Workplace Burnout Is Compassionate Leadership

Uvinie Lubecki created a leadership curriculum based on the teachings of the Dalai Lama. She and I met on LinkedIn and have been able to transform a social media connection into an authentic friendship and collaboration. This post is an interview that goes deeper into her unique story while providing insights from one of the thought-leaders in the compassionate workplace movement.

Our journey began about six months ago with her reaching out after my first Forbes.com post while I was being impressed with her thoughtfulness in her Wisdom 2.0 talk. Our direct messaging shifted to bi-coastal Zoom conversations and now, we are working experimentally and deliberately on a podcast called the Buddhist and the Pagan.

Why compassionate leadership? Why now?

If we do not look at our humanity – what we’re doing to ourselves and to the people we work with and for, we’re looking at a bleak future. Our economic growth is not going to come from producing more, but from creativity and innovation to rethink how we live and work. This cannot come about by treating ourselves and employees like machines. We’re seeing the impact of that. We are burning out, so much so that even the WHO has now recognized it as an occupational phenomenon. Depression is now the leading cause of disability worldwide. Increasing incentives and adding more perks will not solve this challenge. We need a new model of leadership, one that enhances our innate human potential while honoring our human limitations. This will require a paradigm shift. To make this change toward a new way of working and leading, we’re going to have to look at our underlying fears and beliefs that keep us stuck in old patterns and worldviews. Our generation has grown up with a worldview steeped in striving, individual performance, succeeding at all costs, and that looks like more money, more power, more status. It is a mindset based on fear and scarcity. To shift this mindset to a new way of leading, we need to transform these fears and reconnect to what gives us meaning and purpose. This is where compassion comes in. Compassion provides the space to understand and recognize our own suffering in order to be of more benefit to ourselves and others. Only by cultivating compassion can we lead sustainable organizations and build workplaces that nurture and cherish true innovation and creativity.

How do you go about doing that in an organization?

We need to start by redefining compassion in leadership. In a survey we conducted, over 80% of leaders misunderstood compassion to mean “being nice or soft” or “loving everyone.” This is not true. Compassion can look fierce or gentle, but it always has an intention to benefit oneself and others. We define compassionate leadership as understanding what you and others are going through, feeling for yourself and others in a genuine way, and taking action to help you and others to be successful. Unless we redefine what compassion means for leaders, bringing it into organizations will be difficult because leaders will misunderstand compassion to be counterproductive to getting things done.

Once we redefine compassion, we can start to apply it in our leadership. Thankfully, we now have scientific research that shows strengthening compassion is not only possible but trainable. In addition, there are evidence-based practices that we can incorporate in our daily lives that can enhance our compassion, resulting in improved wellbeing, resilience, and connection to others. We need more tools and methods to translate compassion into applied leadership behaviors and study their impact over time on business performance. This needs to happen in the real world in order to be impactful. The first step is for leadership teams to cultivate compassion for themselves so that it becomes embodied. When it is embodied, I’ve seen how leaders transform and recognize and define for themselves how compassion can shift their own thinking and way of leading. This is crucial work before we can scale compassionate leadership across organizations. If leaders do not walk the talk and shift how they treat themselves, they do not provide the safety or permission for the rest of the organization to change. Once leaders are able to cultivate and embody compassion for themselves, then it becomes possible to bring these practices in a scalable way to teams and individuals.

How did you become a compassionate leadership expert/trainer? What is your background?

I was born in Sri Lanka and moved to Ithaca, New York when I was two years old. When I was six, we moved to Lagos, Nigeria. At the time, Nigeria was facing massive civilian unrest and political instability. It was the first time I had seen abject poverty. Amidst such suffering, compassion was the only way to stay sane. I didn’t understand that at the time. More than two decades later, I joined the executive team for a business unit within McKesson. I suddenly had everything I thought I had wanted – a loving husband, a home in San Francisco, and a leadership position at a Fortune 10 company transforming health care.

Yet, after some time, I was surprised to find myself absolutely miserable. I was burning out and the leadership model I was being groomed in didn’t show a way out. I became obsessed with a question – how do leaders, with all of the demands made on them, all of the responsibility they hold, and all of the decisions they need to make, stay connected to each other and the people they serve? One day, I was driving over the Bay Bridge and a voice in my head said that I needed to leave to find the answer. After a circuitous path involving going to South India to receive teachings by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, creating a leadership curriculum based on mindfulness and compassion for a leadership development organization called Dalai Lama Fellows, and extensive periods of meditation, I rediscovered the power of compassion. I learned how you can use compassion not just to face suffering from poverty or illness, but to overcome the kind of intense mental suffering leaders undergo today. Much of what keeps leaders in a cycle of suffering is the responsibility they feel they need to individually hold and the personal sacrifices they feel they need to make to ensure their organizations thrive. In addition, leaders are often shamed and blamed because they are noticed most when they mess up. I started developing a compassionate leadership curriculum for leaders because I believe genuine compassion for leaders is rare and needed. A few years later, I founded Leading Through Connection.

What is one action we can take to start leading with compassion?

The first step to compassion is self-compassion. The lens through which we see ourselves is the same lens through which we see others. If we can extend kindness toward ourselves as leaders and recognize when things get tough that we’re doing our best and that our intention is to be of benefit, this can be a powerful practice. This practice can bring space, take us out of fear and judgment, and over time, it can transform our views of ourselves. Ironically, this small habit of self-compassion will do as much for others as for oneself. As the Dalai Lama loves to say, “If you want to be happy, practice compassion. If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.”

Take her advice and think about one specific thing you can do in the next seven days to be more self-compassionate. It can be fierce such as standing up to a critic or more gentle, like taking more time to to be in nature.

Via Gallup : 3 Leadership Rules That Separate the ‘Good’ From the ‘Best

Do you ever wonder why success is seemingly effortless for some business leaders?

It’s especially perplexing considering the challenges posed by the future of work (which is here, by the way).

Yet for leaders with the right rulebook, building a best-in-class workplace is as simple as 1-2-3. Their thriving organizations have over 70% of their workers ready to outperform the competition.

What’s their secret? Leaders who tackle the excessive demands of today’s workplace do so by following best practices that stand up to decades of rigorous scientific scrutiny.

These leaders live and breathe their playbook of precepts because they know that their leadership approach will determine whether their organization simply survives or slaughters the competition.

1. Treat your workplace culture like a powerful, competitive differentiator.

By now, most business leaders know that culture matters. They might use basic culture survey tools or offer perks designed to create a fun atmosphere.

Still, only 27% of employees strongly believe in their company’s values, according to Gallup data.

Exemplary leaders view their culture as a baseline requirement and ongoing priority — not a “one-and-done” initiative. They use analytics to determine what makes their culture unique and how to make it stronger.

Further, they ensure their culture comes to life — every single day — in their employee experience. This requires consistent metrics and leadership commitment.

Ultimately, leaders who are culture champions help their company consistently win — for instance, by attracting the top 20% of candidates.

2. Don’t simply measure employee engagement; create a culture of high performance by focusing on development.

Many leaders have given employee engagement surveys a try. So why are only 15% of global employees engaged at work?

One underlying problem is that many leaders view employee engagement as the goal — an end in itself.

Excellent leaders recognize that engagement data are only the beginning. They consider engagement an ongoing, methodical exercise — one component of a holistic strategy for optimizing their culture.

The best leaders don’t collect data for data’s sake. They ask questions like, “What pressing problems do I need to address? What challenges are my customers facing?”

To this end, winning leaders enable their managers (who make or break engagement) to serve as coaches who use engagement insights to develop their team members for the future.

Great leaders also know that engagement surveys are a dime a dozen. They take the time to find scientifically and experientially validated approaches to engagement — interventions that are empirically connected to performance gains.

It’s an investment that pays off (and then some). With extraordinary engagement, organizations achieve top-shelf performance in crucial outcomes such as profitability, turnover and sales.

3. Become a data-driven decision-maker.

In today’s marketplace, simply having data isn’t enough. You need cutting-edge analytics to glean breakthroughs and discoveries from your data.

So it’s troubling that 85% of executives say they don’t know how to analyze the data they’ve collected, according to one KPMG study.

The best leaders don’t collect data for data’s sake. They ask questions like, “What pressing problems do I need to address? What challenges are my customers facing?”

That is, smart leaders are hypothesis-driven: They pinpoint their goals and run targeted analyses that address specific problems and objectives. With those insights, they recalibrate their vision and make razor-sharp decisions — in everything from succession planning to performance development.

As a result, their companies boast enviable agility. Data-driven leaders fuel outcomes with every action they take because they are empowered with predictive, forward-looking insights.

There is no magic wand for business excellence. Leaders must demonstrate persistence and courage. The courage to take risks. The courage to admit when you don’t have all the answers.

It’s a tall order, but leaders who are willing to go out on a limb will find that it’s worth it.

Via The Bogota Post : Workplace Warrior: The Most Wanted Leadership Qualities

Anyone can be a leader but only a select few possess the leadership qualities of a great strong leader. We’ve compiled the most wanted traits.

“Everything rises and falls on leadership.”

This tidbit by Dr. John C. Maxwell shows how important leadership is in every aspect. This may be in leading a marketing team or on a scale as huge as a government bureau. How your department will fare lies in the hands of the one leading it.

This extends beyond company morale. In fact, bad leadership can cost a lot. You can avoid about 9-32% of an organization’s voluntary turnover through better leadership skills.

This is also the case for the 5-10% productivity drag that most organizations run.

Better leadership can address these issues. But what does a good leader or a great leader have?

Let us look at these leadership qualities to understand how to lead your people better:

1. Integrity and Honesty

One of the leadership qualities that resonates today is integrity. This also comes hand in hand with honesty as both seem to reflect each other by principle and application. With it, your followers know that you are worth their respect and loyalty.

Your followers trust you because of your integrity.

2. Good Communication and Empathy

The capability to empathize and communicate well with followers is another strong suit. The capability to pass down your concepts, your vision, and your precepts is through communication. If the transmission went well, it will show in their actions.

But remember that communication is a two-way process. This means you need to also be a good listener and you need to learn empathy. Your followers are people, not simple cogs in a machine.

3. Confidence and Charisma

Great leaders have a sense of confidence in them. Without it, they would end up being unsure and doubtful, not being able to incite others to take action. Charisma and confidence work hand in hand as a quality, bringing forth your will to follow through every action and decision you make.

4. Leadership Competence and Excellence

You may have heard of the words “lead by example.” A leader instills the culture of excellence. One where every person must strive to be the best version of themselves.

This does not stop in showing them, it’s also by teaching them how to conduct them.

Couple this with creativity and you would ensure everyone performs well. Practice executive excellence.

5. Empowerment and Delegation

If a leader does everything on his own, he is not doing it right. When it comes to responsibilities and duties, a great leader must see the importance of their followers. After leading by example, he now teaches and entrusts others of the duties he performs.

Do not spread yourself thin. Give your followers a chance to perform by delegating their responsibilities and empowering them.

6. Humility

A leader must also learn to be humble. They were once followers at some point in their careers, more so in their life. For example, the experience of Humberto de la Calle would be a humbling situation after facing defeat in elections yet he still continues on with humility.

All leaders need to remember to be humble while still leading in confidence in what they can do. Lead with your head up high but with your feet on the ground.

Learn These Leadership Qualities Today!

One good thing about these leadership qualities is that you can learn them. Strive to learn and pick up these traits. They may not come overnight, but these can bring an impact to your team.

Via The Seattle Times : When leadership and management work together, change happens

Understanding why we make decisions, who they impact and the effects on ourselves and others are all facets of leadership.

Is leadership different from management? Decades ago, these terms were interchangeable, but not so anymore. They do often share similar skill sets, says Dr. Joel Domingo, associate professor and academic program director of the Doctor of Education in Leadership program at City University of Seattle.

“Both leadership and management involve influence, people and goals,” Domingo says. “While the old adage, ‘you manage tasks but lead people’ still rings true, there are nuanced differences.”

To clarify the distinctions, Domingo suggests you think about your role when making an important decision that may benefit your organization. Those processes of working with the information you have, and decision-making are management skills. At the same time, those skills don’t exist in a vacuum and organizations are made up of people. Understanding why we make decisions, who they impact and the effects on ourselves and others are all facets of leadership.

“Too often we see that people who call themselves leaders often feel like leadership is a place you get when you are promoted out of management,” says Dr. Pressley Rankin IV, academic program director and associate professor at CityU’s School of Applied Leadership. “Leaders can’t plan for the future if they don’t understand what is happening today. They have to be able to see what the organization is doing and how they are doing it in order to help them plan for change.”

Three types of leadership skills

Trying out different facial expressions when listening thoughtfully, making eye contact to enhance authority, or rehearsing the right body language to go with a speech are all things a budding leader might practice in the mirror. But authentic leadership goes deeper and it tends to be expressed in three key dimensions – intrapersonal, interpersonal and developmental.

Honing intrapersonal, interpersonal and developmental skills is important to developing what is known as authentic leadership, Domingo says. “People long for leaders who demonstrate honesty, dependability, compassion and relatability.”

According to Domingo, the intrapersonal dimension of authentic leadership helps answers questions like, “Who am I as a leader, and do I have purpose?” The interpersonal side examines how a person interacts with others and connects with people in general. Some good questions to ask which address the interpersonal side are, “How do people respond to my leadership, and is there a sense of camaraderie and/or respect present?” Developmental questions are simply, “How can I grow through some of my deficiencies or even, can I admit that I need to learn more?”

Drilling down further, City University’s new Master of Science in Management and Leadership, which launched this fall, lets students choose from three focuses: change leadership, human resource management and nonprofit leadership. Each focus area teaches how to effectively make the best decisions, create high-performing teams, develop assured self-management, lead the execution of strategic plans and stand out when the time for a promotion comes.

“Management focuses on the process and leadership focuses on people,” says Domingo. “We wanted to incorporate both management and leadership into the degree as the two are historically seen as complementary to each other.”

Exploring the different facets of leadership to find the right fit for your own aptitudes and goals can lead to powerful impacts and results. Leadership touches all levels of society. Domingo says he sees students in business, government and even the military exploring many valuable topics including change in the school system, inequity in schools and diversity.

Dr. Heather Henderson examined the gender disparities in women superintendents when working on her dissertation in City University of Seattle’s leadership program. Now she’s leveraged the leadership ability she learned and acquired there to become a group leader in the International Leadership Association, the largest association in the world committed to leadership scholarship, development and practice.

Dr. Mary Bethune, another student who completed the same program, took on the topic of generational change in the workplace. With massive numbers of people retiring, how can their knowledge be saved and used in the future? She’s become a change leader in finding ways to preserve that wisdom.

“It is important to know that anyone can be a leader,” Rankin says. “You don’t need a formal title to lead. Martin Luther King and Gandhi are examples of leaders who accomplished great things with no official leadership title. We call this informal leadership and it is something anyone can practice and learn.”

Via Insight : Is leadership the missing variable in the productivity equation?

Quality of leadership is reported to be the single most important factor to impact the level of productivity in an organisation according to a new international research study. The report, The Puzzle of Productivity: What enhances workplace performance? was compiled by the Fourfront Group, The United Workplace (TUW) and WORKTECH Academy. It found that more than half of respondents surveyed (53 percent) named leadership as the most important factor in raising organisational performance. Less than a fifth of respondents named environment, technology or wellness as being the most important factor. Environment came second to leadership, but a long way behind on 18 per cent of the survey. More than half of the organisations surveyed worldwide (54 percent) said that ‘inspiring leadership’ is the best way to motivate staff to improve performance, whereas a ‘well designed workplace’ scored much lower on 19 percent with ‘a focus on wellness’ (14 percent) and ‘seamless tech’ (13 percent) even further down the field.

Aki Stamatis, chairman Fourfront Group and TUW, said, “What’s clear from our research and the interviews is that whilst leadership is conclusively regarded as a dominant factor in raising performance, not enough attention is paid to it by those of us working within workplace. We need to allow leadership to forge a deeper understanding and strong partnership with workplace design because one cannot deliver what organisations need to improve their productivity without the other.”

Jeremy Myerson, director WORKTECH Academy said, “Leadership may be regarded as the most important factor in improving organisational productivity, but it has to be integrated with other major drivers of productivity, such as environment. To achieve that integration requires key decision makers in the market to adopt more holistic and joined-up thinking in workplace strategy. That’s why we’re setting up an annual Forum on Workplace Performance. But first we want to hear reactions to the Puzzle of Productivity. This is the opening shot in a debate that is set to run and run. We invite you to join the conversation.”