How to Be a Compassionate Manager in a Heartless Organization

Summary. Being a compassionate leader is being a good leader. It can be hard to do that when the rest of the company’s culture seems to rely on favoritism or neglect. What can you do if you want to manage your team with compassion, but your leadership hasn’t bought into this philosophy? The author presents six strategies that will help you be a compassionate leader in a less-than-ideal environment. You can make a difference for your people and for the business, and eventually, others outside your area may come looking to see how you’ve been so successful and learn from your actions.


Research shows that employees who work for compassionate managers are 25% more engaged in their jobs, 20% more committed to the organization, and 11% less likely to burn out. But too many organizations seem not to have gotten the memo yet. They still have rigid hierarchies and treat their employees more like resources than humans, requiring excessively long hours, pressuring people for unrealistic results, and treating them as if they were all exactly the same, without regard for their individuality.

What can you do if you want to manage your team with compassion, but your leadership hasn’t bought into this philosophy? These six strategies will help you be a compassionate leader and may even convince some of your less-compassionate colleagues that they can do better.

  • Work out your own robust, business-focused definition of compassion.
  • Model self-awareness and self-regulation.
  • Recognize that you can never be everything to everyone.
  • Deliver business results.
  • Demonstrate the importance of accomplishment and accountability.
  • Support your people through awareness and advocacy.

Read the full article written by McKinsey Liz Kislik who helps organizations from the Fortune 500 to national nonprofits and family-run businesses solve their thorniest problems. She has taught at NYU and Hofstra University and recently spoke at TEDxBaylorSchool. You can receive her free guide, How to Resolve Interpersonal Conflicts in the Workplace, on her website via this link.

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