Once, I was an assistant. I had a traumatizing experience. For one thing, because I worked with five powerful women who, how do you say, adults 86% of their day. It was all work, less play. There were times when they had to be tough, on me and on my co-workers. My supervisor is the VP for Marketing, and her office was what we called, the principal's office. People who go there sometimes come out crying. And when you hear your name on the intercom, it means you’re in trouble. Everyone feared her, but she has always been nice to me.
I had five independent women as bosses, and they had completely different personalities and mood swings. I never liked how they would one moment take their stress out on me, unintentionally, then the next moment be too kind and buy me a cup of Starbucks. It was confusing. Six months in, I had the option to walk away from this toxic work environment. But I chose to stay and I opened my mind and heart and tried to understand them. As I was given previews of snippets of their lives, everything started making sense to me. Fact is, other people will make more sense to us if we take time to understand where they are coming from.
Eventually, I had to leave this workplace. Maybe because I was not happy anymore. I got tired of understanding and I did not want to be like them. Maybe they overlooked me as an employee and failed to see my efforts to grow. Partly because I had a better offer. But as I walked out of our office, I told myself I am never coming back. And if one day I was given a chance to lead a team, or have a staff, I would try to do better.
Fast forward to me becoming a Producer. I lead and manage a team of creatives. It is finally my chance. The title Producer gives you a sense of being powerful. But as Spiderman once said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Yes, this is true. I am now left with a question -- What now? Do I do the same thing as they did, or approach leadership differently?
How do you really become a compassionate leader? What does it really mean? It’s not an easy task, definitely. Let’s back up a little to the second day of our Global Leadership Summit last February. Dalia Feldheim discussed the 5P’s of Compassionate Leadership.
Purpose -- the Why’s, Strengths and Goals. As a good leader, we should help our team focus on their strengths to achieve their goals.
Perseverance (Mental Wellness) -- protect our team’s mental health, always give a positive mindset, have room for intellectual growth and growth mindset.
Physical Perseverance -- Whether it’s a sickness or a tough week at work, give our team the time to breathe and recover. Respect the boundary between work days and weekends.
Perspective (Emotional Wellness) -- We can do check-ins, prioritize them, manage conflict in the workplace or between teammates.
People -- we should remember that we are all only human. We have our own strengths and weaknesses, and we should not apologize for them.
When I was fresh off college, I always thought that the definition of professionalism is doing everything you can to deliver work, regardless of your wellbeing. As I grow older I realize it is not the case. We are humans and we have a heart, it is what separates us from robots. Let’s not judge our employees or teammates if they say they can’t, instead, inspire them so that they can. Let’s do our best to understand them and lift them up. Listen wide open. See your humanity in others. Lead with compassion. Lead with a heart.
Here's the highlight of the keynote from Dalia Feldheim:
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