The Business of Compassion

Trust is critical for a business to be successful, but you can’t have trust without compassion.

It’s a guarantee that if someone doesn’t see you as a compassionate human being, you are not high on his or her personal trust curve. It’s not possible because compassion is about genuinely empathizing with others, and showing sympathy with authenticity—both compassionate actions that result in trust. Compassion breeds trust, respect, and loyalty throughout the business, and shows everyone that the business has heart. When leaders have compassion, it’s evident that they care about how the business impacts people and communities. Compassion heightens engagement, retains the best talent, and circulates healthy energy throughout the business. Compassion is at the core of trust.

Compassion is an action word—it’s a verb. If the business has compassion publicly noted as one of its core values, everyone will expect every leader to show compassion in everything they do. If leaders don’t, the business has created a breeding ground for hurt, anger, and disappointment, resulting in energetic green slime everywhere. If the business states that it values compassion, leaders at all levels better be able to authentically show acts of compassion. If leaders are unable to match their words and the value labels they put out into the business, people will have no desire to do anything except the bare minimum required to collect a paycheck. And when the opportunity arises, people will jump at the chance to leave the business and work someplace where leaders actually have the ability to show compassion.

Some businesses say, “We have chosen the values we aspire to attain. Our values are goals for how we want to live in the future. It’s important that our values show that we are trying to change.” Here’s the deal: That may be the intent of the values you’ve chosen for your business, but if every leader can’t live up to the values you’ve publicly stated, your business will find itself constantly battling culture, engagement, and retention deficiency.

That being said, it’s great that so many businesses have compassion as a value—every business should. The problem is not in naming compassion as a value. The problem is that businesses are looking at the value of compassion as aspirational, rather than a required behavior every leader is expected to live and is furthermore held accountable to living.

So the question is simple. Do people trust you? Do you wake up each morning living compassion? If not, that might be the exact change you’re looking for.

Gina Soleil, is a speaker and acclaimed author of Fuel Your Business: How to energize people, ignite action and drive profit. She blogs and speaks about how to create a business where people are energized, feel good and are happy. Email Gina Soleil and follow her on Twitter.

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