Sector News

The 1 rule of leadership that will make others want to follow you

August 27, 2019
Borderless Leadership

Get involved in the discussion! Click here to comment on this story

Compassion is a word often used to describe how to approach relationships between family and friends — but should it have a place in your work relationships, too?

While some industries favor a more rigid corporate structure, it’s been argued that showing compassion in the workplace is increases employee retention, decreases stress, and even improves health.

The Oxford Handbook of Compassion Science documents compassion as an individual, group, organizational, and cultural force of nature that positively changes lives and transforms companies.

One prolific study found that organizations characterized by higher levels of compassion (and other virtuous behaviors, like forgiveness) increased performance, innovation, customer retention, profitability, and quality. And, yes, these same firms also had considerably less employee turnover.

Compassionate leadership in practice.
But how do you practice compassion in a way that makes business sense and doesn’t imply holding hands and singing Kumbaya?

One advocate of incorporating compassion into her brand and leadership style is Beth Gerstein, co-CEO of Brilliant Earth, the leader in ethically sourced jewelry.

From celebrating small wins to her company’s mission of donating 5 percent of all net profits to communities impacted by the jewelry industry, Beth shared with me some valuable tips for cultivating a more compassionate corporate culture.

Show appreciation.
It’s important to celebrate life’s victories, both big and small. As a leader, Beth finds that regularly recognizing her team’s successes make them feel appreciated for their hard work and more motivated to tackle the next challenge. For example, at company socials, they write and publicly post kudos to recognize individual contributions and strengths.

Make a positive impact.
Since its inception, Brilliant Earth has been focused on the mission of creating beautiful jewelry while cultivating a more transparent, sustainable, and compassionate jewelry industry. By infusing this sense of ethics into every aspect of their brand and into their employees’ mindset, people feel a sense of pride and ownership about the products they sell and the positive impact they’re having through their work. Brilliant Earth’s giving back initiatives also extend to local opportunities, with employees frequently engaging in philanthropic activities such as food and toy drives, beach cleanups, and volunteering at a local food bank or shelter.

Lead by example.
CEOs need to be intentional about both what they say and what they do–it sets the tone for the organization. Beth shares that even day-to-day things such as “addressing customer inquiries with urgency and care, walking to work instead of driving, and being responsive to feedback and new ideas for improvement” shows your team that you are invested in your work while encouraging them to follow suit.

Respond with authenticity.
“Make it clear that you are open to hearing not just the good news and successes, but also the challenges and failures,” Beth shared. Inevitably, there will be bumps in the road, so when employees raise issues and concerns, “respond with empathy and authenticity, and ask probing questions to help them identify and consider potential solutions rather than dictating an answer.” In doing so, it will demonstrate that you are taking the time to address their concerns and inspiring them to stretch their skills.

Equip your team to take care of the business.
“A significant amount of my time as a co-CEO is focused on building and nurturing my team–recruiting, retaining, and working closely with HR” to make sure the employees are set up for success, says Beth. Brilliant Earth’s success is not due to Beth’s own personal achievements, but through the daily empowerment of team members to carry out the strategy and vision for the brand. “Recognizing this creates a sense of gratitude and appreciation for the unique skills that each team member brings to our organization,” she shared.

By Marcel Schwantes


1 response to “The 1 rule of leadership that will make others want to follow you

  • Andrew Kris says:

    A leader is a person whom others follow – it’s up to leaders to exemplify values and behaviours that are ultimately beneficial and responsible for the organisations they serve and society at large. Are you a leader? Are people following you for the right reasons?

Join the discussion!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related News

November 13, 2019

Emerging triumphantly from change through adaptive leadership

Borderless Leadership

LinkedIn Twitter FacebookWhen an organization is presented with a shift in technology, a new customer preference, or a new marketing dynamic, it often focuses on solutions such as implementing new […]

November 12, 2019

Why likable leaders seem more effective

Borderless Leadership

LinkedIn Twitter FacebookIn late 2007, one of us, Charn, found himself in Camp Buehring, Kuwait, preparing to fly a Kiowa Warrior helicopter over the Iraqi border. Kuwait is a stopover […]

November 6, 2019

Dear CEOs: It doesn’t have to be lonely at the top

Borderless Leadership

LinkedIn Twitter FacebookOne of the nicer things about my current portfolio of responsibilities is that I have the time to advise CEOs. After a career spent doing this as a […]

Subscribe to our Weekly Newsletter

We're easy to reach