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OFFICE HOURS: Stories from the heart … of business

Thanks for your interest in Become More… inspired by Raffi. Today, we start a new series, this one focusing on the Heart of Business. For many years, I’ve talked about managing with a heart in ways that feed the spirit — it’s become my tagline. I’d like to spend several “lessons” highlighting “heart-felt” stories that make good businesses great. I’d love to interview some CEOs or managers about their Heart Stories — so I may be calling you.

Head and shoulders of Santo Marabella

Before we do that, today I want to introduce a concept that describes one very rich approach to leading with a heart in your organization or business — it’s called wise compassion. In future lessons, we will discuss others.

Potential Project offers helpful definitions for our discussion. Wisdom is the courage to be transparent with others and to do what needs to be done, even when it is uncomfortable; and, compassion is to feel care and empathy for another person, combined with an intention to support and help. Blending the two is  “getting tough things done in a human way.” This is wise compassion.

Wise compassion

We know that compassionate leadership is good for business. According to a 2019 article in Forbes, “Leading with the heart involves making certain business decisions based on your heart instead of solely depending on your mind. It means putting people first, serving the community and creating purposeful employment.” And, it’s good for the bottom line with higher levels of job satisfaction and teamwork, organizational commitment, accountability on the job, and lower levels of absenteeism.

We also know that compassion alone is not enough. Being a good leader who is good to their people is foundational, it’s just not everything. Everything is making tough, smart and strategic decisions from a place that respects and values people — called wise compassion. A study of 5,000 companies in 100 countries, cited by Atlassian (a company that “hearts” team development) reports that when company leaders emulate wise compassion, they see “even greater success, to the tune of 20% higher performance and 65% lower burnout on their teams.”

With wise compassion, we’re not indifferent. But, we’re also not hiding behind our empathy to avoid taking action; nor are we using results to justify ruthless and insensitive ways of treating people. It’s an effective, humane way to lead.

Potential Project identifies four skill sets needed for a leader to master wise compassion:  Caring Presence, Caring Courage, Caring Candor, and Caring Transparency. When these skills are practiced in this order, they create what they call the Wise Compassion Flywheel, a “virtuous cycle” that stores and delivers the right type of caring at the opportune time.

Implementing wise compassion

There are myriad sources about how to develop or implement wise compassion. Two I will mention. First, is Potential Project’s elaboration of the four wise compassion skills suggests some tactics:

• Caring Presence — be here now

• Caring Courage — courage over comfort

• Caring Candor — direct is faster

• Caring Transparency — clarity is kindness

They see mindfulness as liberating — freeing us from expectations and assumptions, while encouraging curiosity. Having courage means not letting things “fester” and trusting your gut. Essentially by reframing candor and transparency, they provide a more acceptable perspective for  those of us stronger in compassion than wisdom, who might shy away from being direct and transparent because of our un-regulated empathy.

The other is from my old stand-by, Harvard Business Review. The stand-out from this article is the tips are categorized based on your predominant need as a leader — for compassion or for wisdom.

If you want to develop more compassion, they offer three tips:

• Have more self-compassion — you can’t have compassion for others if you don’t have it for yourself
• Check your intention — be empathetic to others so you can benefit them
• Adopt a daily compassion practice — practice makes perfect, and yes, they have an app to help you with this!

Increasing wisdom includes:

• Candid transparency — the article says “concealing tough criticism is not kind — it is misleading,” but being clear is
• Daily direct interaction — it gets easier the more you use the “wise muscle”
• Daily mindfulness ritual — research shows that being mindful or present, helps develop wisdom.

Use wise compassion to lead — for people and for results!

Next Column:  Stories from the “Heart” of Business!

Dr. Santo D. Marabella, The Practical Prof, is a professor emeritus of management at Moravian University and hosts the podcast “Office Hours with The Practical Prof … and Friends.” His latest book, “The Lessons of Caring” is written to inspire and support caregivers (available in paperback and eBook). Website:; Twitter: @PracticalProf; Facebook: ThePracticalProf.


The Compassionate Leader Who Leads With The Heart – Is It Good For Business?

Compassionate Leadership:  The Best of Both Worlds

Eight Ways to Become a More Compassionate Leader

Compassionate Leadership is Necessary – But Not Sufficient

Compassionate Leadership

Wise and Compassionate

Source: Berkshire mont

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