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To Create an Enriching Work Environment, Leaders Need to Try This Approach Let's explore the transformative power of fierce compassion: an approach that blends strength with empathy to foster a purpose-driven, trustful and caring workplace environment.

By Bradley Hook

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In the realm of business leadership, traditional qualities such as assertiveness, decisiveness and strategic acumen are often extolled. While these traits undoubtedly hold value, a shift is occurring within many of the organizations I work with. Forward-thinking leaders are embracing a more holistic approach, regarding each team member not merely as an employee, but as an essential component of the corporate ecosystem.

Instead of leaning on strategy alone, they embrace purpose as a guiding force. Instead of control, they choose trust. Foregoing self-promotion, they subscribe to the mantra, "success is succession," treating team members as the future leaders they are.

This shift heralds the emergence of an approach that fuses strength with empathy to empower teams, stimulate innovation and underpin agility — all while making work an enriching experience. I call this paradigm fierce compassion.

Let's explore the elements of fierce compassion and its transformative role in leadership.

Have something to stand for: Starting with 'why?'

Simon Sinek's renowned TED Talk, "Start With Why," highlights the importance of understanding the "why" behind our actions. For leaders, this translates into having a clear purpose — both for the organization and each team. Fierce compassion requires aligning the collective passion of a team with a meaningful mission. It means standing for something greater than profits and deadlines and inspiring others to do the same. Remember: Employee purpose and passion will carry your business through turbulent times, so strive to make each day meaningful.

Leadership action: For every project, campaign and activity, clearly articulate the link to your organization's purpose.

Use core values as a shared framework for decision-making

Core values serve as the compass that guides an organization. They form the shared framework for decision-making and ensure the team operates as a cohesive unit. Fierce compassion in leadership requires an environment where these values are not only understood but are lived and breathed by every team member. Ambiguity breeds fear and fear leads to inertia, hostility or retreat. Values clarify what is important in every situation and provide us with lenses through which we can confidently make decisions.

Leadership action: Turn values into habits.

No rules rules: Full autonomy and trust

Netflix's unique "No Rules Rules" approach demonstrates the power of full autonomy and trust in driving a company's success. A fiercely compassionate leader decentralizes command, entrusting their team with the freedom to own their work, enabling creativity, accountability and a sense of shared responsibility. To be agile in the age of disruption, an organization must embrace chaos rather than attempt to tame it. Remember: Mistakes often lead to remarkable innovation.

Leadership action: Develop a culture of coaching from the top down and bottom up. We all learn from each other.

Leaders eat last: Demonstrating care for everyone

The phrase "Leaders Eat Last," popularized by Simon Sinek, encapsulates the essence of servant leadership, an approach that prioritizes the team's needs above one's own. Fierce compassion requires leaders to demonstrate genuine care for their team members by respectfully getting to know them and anticipating their needs. Drawing from military experience, author Jocko Willink suggests progressing toward extreme ownership: owning team member failures and forwarding credit for success. This is the antidote to a culture of blame.

Leadership action: Listen generously and own your team's performance.

An open book: The importance of transparency and openness

Transparency and openness are crucial in creating a culture of trust within an organization. Fierce compassion means embracing vulnerability as a leader, facilitating open communication and ensuring every team member feels heard and valued. A culture of transparency ultimately leads to radical candor — the practice of direct yet empathetic communication — fostering an environment where honesty prevails and constructive feedback is valued.

Leadership action: Seek opinions and feedback. Be authentic when sharing good news and bad.

Lead with grace: Be the change you want to see

Leadership isn't just about directing others; it's about embodying the change you wish to see. Leading with grace means maintaining calm under pressure, showing respect in all interactions, and setting a high standard of integrity. It's about alternating between wide-angle situation awareness and deep focus, then sharing insights from both perspectives. It requires leading by example and inspiring others through your actions.

Leadership action: Demonstrate care for all stakeholders. Don't sweat the small stuff.

Encourage warrior kindness

Lastly, fierce compassion encourages "warrior kindness" — a mindset that embraces fear, relishes the present moment and celebrates victories with good humor. It strikes a balance between strength and sensitivity, between resoluteness and empathy. There are proven benefits of kindness in the workplace, with evidence suggesting that it leads to increased productivity and a more engaged workforce.

Remember, fiercely compassionate leaders don't have all the answers. Instead, they lean into life's challenges with a wink and smile, reassuring the rest of us that it will be okay.

Leadership action: Share stories, laughter and success.

The future of leadership: Fierce compassion

In essence, fierce compassion requires leaders not just to lead but to serve, not just to speak but to listen, and not just to instruct but to inspire. In a world that often prioritizes profits over people, fierce compassion is a leadership approach that respects the individual, values the team and understands the power of empathy in driving success.

Leaders who embrace this approach will find themselves at the helm of engaged, motivated teams ready to embrace whatever lies ahead. In turn, they may just find that compassion isn't just "nice to have" in leadership — it's a necessity.

As the philosopher Rumi once said, "Be a lamp, or a lifeboat or a ladder. Help someone's soul heal. Walk out of your house like a shepherd." Fierce compassion is the shepherd of modern leadership, guiding, nurturing and empowering others on their own journeys toward becoming shepherds for future generations.

Bradley Hook

Partner, Resilience Institute Global

Bradley Hook is a globally recognized writer and speaker, dedicated to bridging tech and human performance. He is the host of the Resilience Podcast, director of a standout documentary and multi-genre author. He is pioneering innovative solutions worldwide.

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