3 reasons capitalists need compassion

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We’ve all come across them; truly great leaders who seem to have that “X” factor. It could be your basketball coach, your first boss or further removed, Alex Malley, Gail Kelly, Bill Clinton or that other Bill – Bill Gates. The Bill who first convinced teams of people to put a desktop in every home and who now is leading teams to solve some of the world’s biggest health and social challenges!

The shared “thing” that may be contributing to this X factor is that they practice compassion and empathy and use it to drive results according to new research from the field of neuroscience.

“What?! I’m a capitalist!” I hear you say. “Compassion and empathy are the remit of those social responsibility people, if it doesn’t impact my bottom line I don’t want to know!”

Well for all those capitalist skeptics out there, here are the 3 things you need to know about the surprising productivity hacks that can be delivered through compassion and empathy.

The research shows that increased compassion leads to behaviours that have been demonstrated to enhance performance of individuals, teams and organisations. Increased compassion enables:

  1. Increased collaboration

    Increasing focus and capability for compassion (via 2 weeks of 30 mins daily guided audio instruction) dramatically increased pro social behavior – voluntary behaviour that benefits others. Through measuring and mapping brain activity, there was positive change to the region of the brain that predicts helping behavior. The outcome was a kick start a virtuous cycle of expanded collaborative thinking and capacity.

  1. Increased proactivity in difficult situations.

    Regularly adopting a compassionate perspective desensitises us to suffering (through deactivation of the amygdala). This in turn reduces avoidance behavior and correspondingly increases proactivity in difficult situations. Certainly, what is desired in difficult situations is for leaders and their teams to be able to be proactive rather than be avoidant.

  1. Reduced stress and increased well-being.

    The research also showed that actively practicing compassion decreases activation of the amygdala which improves well-being, including stress-related immune responses and positively influences psychological and physical health. It is well documented that peak performance is enhanced through mental, emotional and physical well being.


Higher levels of well-being? Count me in!

In a very real sense, the benefits of being able to exhibit collaboration and proactivity as well increased psychological and physical health are all crucial elements in being able to transition effectively. This is included in our PALDER model that has been developed to support leaders transition into new roles.

For example, when establishing the strategy for the organisation, developing the leadership team and creating the energy and enthusiasm in the organisation to execute (as espoused in PALDER’s Decide and Energise phases), the ability to effectively collaboration is fundamental.

Transitioning into a new role, particularly a new expat role, is one of the most stressful events an executive will experience. New role, team, country, organisation, reporting line and family move all at the same time! Be proactive in difficult situations and maintain mental and physical health is vital to sustain and perform. This is evidenced in the Renew phase of PALDER.

So, if you are one of those capitalist skeptics who could benefit from increased collaboration, proactivity and well being for yourself and your teams, talk to us about how we can help you.

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“Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice, and discipline.”

James C. Collins, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t