How To Become a Compassionate Leader and Get More From Your Staff

By Chris Parnham.

Most of us business owners, leaders or managers expect – or at least hope – that our staff care as much about our business as we do, but why should they?

Providing they show up on time, look busy for 8 hours, don’t pull too many sickies, smile in the right places and make the right noises, then their job and the security of a regular income is safe, right?

This might be true in a poorly managed business, but not when effective and compassionate leadership in place.

So, how does a leader make his or her staff care? Because caring isn’t easy. Caring requires an extra level of effort and commitment. It means working harder because you care about the effects of your contribution. It means you recognise what impact you can have on the business, thereby making you want to do more.

In life we generally only put in extra effort for the people or things we care about. If a parent, loved one or friend is sick, we will run to their aid, offering time, support, sustenance or help. We are aware of countless individuals around us who are sick, struggling, hungry or homeless and in most cases, we don’t do anything to help, because we just don’t care enough. We hope someone else does.

20% of people are late for work at least once a week, but less than 5% of people are late for their holiday flights. People care a lot more about their holidays than they do their job. 400% more! But without the job, there would be no holiday…

It’s quite a reach to make all your staff care as much about the company as they do their holidays, but we are in the business of marginal gains, and if we can convert just 10% of our team from workers to carers, then we have some serious growth potential at our feet.

In most teams there are model employees, those who care passionately about their job and their company, and conversely, there are those who truly only come to work to deliver the bare minimum, in order to earn their salary and go home on the dot at 5.30pm. But the remaining majority are swing voters, ready to care, and ready to give more.

Compassionate Leadership will win over some of those swing voters, by applying 4 simple words…


First and foremost, leaders have to CARE about their staff.

How do we recognise people in our lives that we care about? They listen to us, they make time for us, they understand us, the show an interest in us. They care about us. A leader must learn to show genuine care for their staff by listening and giving time and consideration.

Studies have even shown that being a caring boss can be extremely beneficial for both employees and your business. This study from The University of Kent at Canterbury finds that being altruistic can in fact increase your status as the boss in a group…

Compassionate leaders have to brave enough to show staff that not caring has consequences. Ok, showing up on time may mean someone’s job is safe, but it doesn’t have to mean they get extra bonuses, enhanced benefits or coaching to help them grow to do more and earn more.

Leaders should DARE to apply this strategy visibly.

It will show everyone that caring has a positive outcome, and not caring has consequences.

FAIRNESS underlines honesty and respect.

A compassionate leader must be fair and show flexibility and consistency in the way they apply rules, strategy and management style. Fairness is visible, and it shows staff that you care, making it easier for them to copy.

Creativity is the hardest thing to apply, as it requires masses of effort without rules, and it has the potential to make a dramatic impact on the things that matter.

So, leaders need to apply a little FLAIR.

Let’s think about how much creativity we put into a loved ones’ special birthday gift. It shows we care. If a boss can show creativity to their staff, this can be an irresistible mirror for staff to copy.

Leaders can be creative and flexible to a certain extent in the way they structure the working day. Why does it have to start and end at the same time every day, or all year around? Why does every day have to be in the office?

Rewards are ripe for creativity. Although a genuine ‘thank you’ is still proven to have the maximum effect on productivity, meaningful rewards can demonstrate that a boss truly cares.

What would your staff really want or benefit from?

It might be true that most staff don’t care enough, but that’s usually because bosses haven’t taken the time to show that they care. Not only about the business but about its staff.

Caring is not a sign of weakness or of being soft, it makes a leader more real, genuine and vulnerable.

It reveals a little more about the leader to the staff, which in turn gives them something real to care about.