Dr. Amy Bradley is a senior faculty member of Hult International Business School. She was chosen as a member of the Thinkers50 Radar Class of 2020 and her work has been published in the Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and The Guardian. Her recent book, The Human Moment: The Positive Power of Compassion in the Workplace, is a hands-on manual to cultivating a culture in the workplace that practices and supports compassion. She joins Marcel Schwantes to discuss the book, and how its principles apply in today’s world.
Amy wrote her book to accomplish three goals: to teach leaders to practice self care so they can better care for those around them; to give leaders knowledge and confidence in attending to employees who may be going through difficult experiences; and to provide the tools for creating environments where compassion is both systemic and systematic. [9:09]
Marcel asks Amy why she thinks the workplace is dehumanized. Our relationship dynamic with work has been unhealthy long before the current crisis, Amy claims. We prioritized tasks over relationships, which drove self-focused individualism instead of other-focused collectivism. The pandemic is giving us the opportunity to step back and reset the way we view ourselves and our relationship with work. [10:52]
Marcel asks Amy to define compassion. She responds that compassion is noticing and responding to the suffering of others and ourselves with kindness, care, generosity, and non-judgment. Different types of compassion are relevant for different environments, but the bottom line is that human beings want to feel loved and cared for. [12:53]
“Companies, organizations and institutions can have the brightest visions, but if the culture isn’t conducive, compassion will never flourish,” Amy remarks. Organizational culture is most powerfully demonstrated through the testimonies of those within the organization about how they are treated. Culture is intangible, but it is felt and experienced by all employees. [17:52]
The four domains of growth are: appreciation of life; new possibilities; personal strength; and managerial growth. Amy’s research observed that leaders acquired these types of personal development post-trauma. She gives details and examples for each domain. “People need time, space and support to see their growth from these experiences,” she adds, “otherwise the impact goes unrealized.” [23:03]
When fostering compassion in the workplace, leaders must be aware that they set the emotional tone in the organization, and should lead by example. Leaders that take the time to make connections and prioritize wellbeing over business outcomes set the tone and context for compassion. [27:27]
Marcel advises listeners to be mindful of how they express compassion and to be introspective about how compassionate you are when listening to others. “Compassionate listening is being able to not just hear, but listen with the intent to meet someone’s needs or remove their suffering,” he says. Amy comments that a human moment is an act of making the time each day to connect with someone on a basic human level. [32:01]
Amy believes that some leaders still lead through fear because of an internal drive that stimulates both fear and satisfaction in their brains, causing them to exist in a constant state of anxiety. That drive produces results in the short term, which satisfies the system that perpetuates it, but is not sustainable in the long term. [36:30]
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