Why Compassionate Objectivity is Important
By Ann Gatty
Have you noticed leaders who have mastered the art of compassionate objectivity? Do they stand out in your mind? What is it about their style of leadership that proves so very effective?
When dealing with people, employees or customers, they seem to have the ability to understand things from another person’s perspective while they also have the ability to stay detached enough to have an objective observation, which can prove invaluable. Through experience, sweat and tears, they have learned to view situations in a bifurcated fashion—with compassion and with objectivity. Seeing a situation from multiple points of view can be very helpful, especially in stressful work environments.
For leaders today, being able to model the types of behaviors they expect from their work force is a strategy that can greatly improve positive employee engagement. Employees feel a sense of connection with leaders who can walk a mile in another person’s shoes. In most cases, experience can be the best training for leaders who want to model compassionate objectivity.
It is not unusual in the frenetic work environment, to lose sight of the employees’ concerns, feelings, and passions. Showing compassion takes time—time to ask questions and find out how the employees are feeling and how their various backgrounds may influence their opinions about a given situation. It is equally difficult to stay detached and make decisions that are best for the company, even if there is some pain involved. But it takes experience and life lessons to be able to combine compassion and objectivity and blend the perspectives into quality decision making.
Yet, it is important to make informed decisions that (1) take into account how others might feel and (2) what is best for the overall outcome. It is important for leaders to be deliberate and use careful consideration before making a decision.
The best strategy I have found in learning the art of compassionate objectivity is to ask questions. When an employee disagrees with a decision, ask the individual to explain why they are taking that position. Maybe there are underlying circumstances you have not noticed. Such conversations allow leaders to step outside of their own world view and gain another perspective. Such conversations allow a situation that could become confrontational to transform into a situation of collaboration.
Using compassionate objectivity builds respect from employees. It translates into a form of wisdom that deepens as the leader handles each new situation. Smart leaders continue to build their careers by using this ever expanding repertoire of experiences to deepen their wisdom. Through practice, leaders develop the ability to balance competing demands for compassion and for objectivity as they deliberate their decisions.