The Most Essential Leadership Quality To Show Right Now
This article is based on my Access4Success conversation with Robin Stone – the VP of HR of the award-winning resorts – Agua Caliente Casinos situated in Palm Springs Southern California. Robin is an exceptional leader with more than 30 years of experience in the HR field. If you prefer to watch the video – click here
Haydee – With so many organizations opening up for business again, which one leadership quality do you feel is the most imperative for leaders to demonstrate to team members right now?
For me the choice is easy, it’s COMPASSION.
Haydee – What is compassionate leadership? How would you define it?
Our team members lives have changed. Remember schools, daycares are still closed. They may be thinking, “I’ve got to go back to work, but now I’m the childcare taker.” or their parents might have moved in because they’ve lost housing. All kinds of factors are going on for every person working for your organization. For us, it’s over 2 300. So when we’re calling those team members back, we need to be compassionate. And when there’s hesitancy in their voice, and they don’t seem all excited to come back – we need to find out why.
They may be living with elderly grandparents or parents who are totally healthy, but team members don’t know if they’re going to come back to work and then take the virus back home. So they’re scared. I think being compassionate to understand those situations is essential. It’s not a one size fits all. You have to be individual with each situation you come across. Probably over 50% of team members are going to say, “Let’s go, we’re ready to come back!” But for that other 50 % that aren’t, you’ve really got to be compassionate because you don’t know what’s going on.
Great examples Robin, it is imperative for leaders to demonstrate compassionate leadership and make dealing with this human crisis the first priority. A recent survey showed this pandemic has stripped leadership to its core – making a positive difference in other’s lives. This is why compassion becomes even more critical during a crisis. And dealing with people’s immediate needs in a compassionate manner will set the stage for business recovery.
As we open for business, many leaders are going to busy themselves with really urgent meetings and day to day operational issues triggered by this current situation, as well as some self-preservation and a desire to maintain control.
How can leaders right now find their compassionate voice and begin leading others and the organization into a post-crisis “normal”?
Treat every team member, like their heart is breaking, because it just might be. If you lead with this philosophy in mind, post COVID19 your organization and you will be in a much better place – not just from a business point of view, but from an engagement and connectivity point of view.
Studies show that compassionate leadership fosters belonging and inclusion to unify the organization. It also highlights your employer brand when team members see daily leadership compassionate acts taking place. This also engages employees to be part of re-imagining and planning the company’s post-crisis future.
Haydee – What key traits of compassion are important for leaders to embrace right now?
Leaders are going to be very busy going to meetings; trying to get their stores, restaurants, casinos, and businesses open. Operators are going to be excited to start talking “We got to do this and that” What did you hear back? The main trait is to LISTEN during this busy time. Actively listening to what others are saying is one of the most important traits of compassion to embrace.
Exactly and listening is part of communication. To add to your point more than ever it’s important for leaders to be present and to share information quickly yet as compassionately and optimistically as possible.
What are some practical examples of what compassionate acts look like in the workplace?
If team members aren’t feeling well – don’t come to work. We have an attendance policy, but we’re going to relax that a little bit. So they’re going to feel comfortable. And we want to be able to let them know that we are compassionate, and are not just greedy operators trying to get everyone back in the door. We’re really going to lift and relax a lot of things for this new normal that we’re going to be experiencing.
Haydee – How does the company benefit from leaders showing more compassion?
When you think about the time that we’ve invested in our team members, we don’t want them to go somewhere else. Right now there is going to be a lot of opportunity for them to go somewhere else or to stay home. If they feel connected by their employer, because we’re being compassionate, and we’re showing that we care, and trying to work with them through this “new normal”- it is going to continue to lend itself to Agua Caliente Casinos being one of the employers of choice because that’s how we lead. We lead with our heart, not always the pocketbook.
I love that Robin! It’s been proven that compassionate leaders perform better and foster more loyalty and engagement by their teams. And role-modeling compassion during a crisis lowers stress in others, whilst improving team goal achievement and productivity. It’s a win-win!
Haydee – In your opinion, what leader do you know, that best demonstrates what compassionate leadership is about?
Our COO, Saverio Scheri has not left this property since the beginning. We have had COVID conference calls every week with a small workforce of hourly team members prior to opening. The first thing he said to all of us was, “How are you? How are your families? Please stay healthy, please stay safe”. He did it every single time and never forgets. I admire that for someone who’s not with his family right now but with the Agua Caliente family – that’s great leadership. His example has reinforced for me to be a more compassionate leader.
Haydee – Any last thoughts?
Constantly people have to be open to re-inventing themselves, whatever that looks like, because this is a “new normal”. Be open to every opportunity and everything that comes across your way because it might just be the perfect one for you.
Unprecedented times call for unprecedented compassion. This is one of the most important traits a leader can demonstrate during this crisis. Compassion can deliver stability, hope and a path forward. It will also ensure the well-being of your workforce long after COVID-19 is in the rearview mirror.
If you’re looking to prepare and motivate your teams to reemerge stronger than before, we are a phone call away. In the meantime, stay safe, stay healthy!