Tag Archives: Compassion

Leadership: For-Show, or For-Real?

Do we lead as good shepherds … or simply as hired hands?

“The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me…and I lay down my life for the sheep. ( John 10: 11-15)

Today’s post departs from my usual focus on business leadership to examine political leadership in the wake of Hurricane Sandy’s massive destruction in New York and New Jersey.  My comments reflect not the sentiments of any political party or ideology, but rather a deep disappointment with what I observe to be a failing of leadership from many quarters—as many succumbed to style over substance.

The Approaching Storm

As Hurricane Sandy approached, leadership at the local, city, and state levels seemed to do a very good job getting the word out to the people.  And then, when the storm hit as hard (or even harder) than expected, political leaders were everywhere to be seen—holding hourly press conferences, surveying the storm damage, and generally maintaining everyone’s spirits with calm pronouncements, heartfelt compassion, and a palpable presence.

At the worst of times, political leaders rose to the challenge and showed their finest colors.  For 24, or 48, or 72-hours, it was inspiring to watch. Resources were marshaled, hope was spread, and there was a clear sense of direction, engagement, and can-do, we’ll-repair-and-rebuild, by-your-side-every-step-of-the-way leadership.

And then a funny thing happened… as the days passed, and  the tv spotlights started to dim, the politicians–who seemed to be everywhere only days before–suddenly became harder and harder to find. Continue reading

The Need for Compassionate and Courageous Firing

There was a disturbing story in the newspaper today:

The trial dragged on for two years — marked by 46 days of hearings, 18 witnesses on the stand, and a hefty 89-page ruling by the judge. Mob crime of the century? Complex terror case?  Nope. Just trying to get rid of a bad public-school teacher.

The article went on to detail the almost unimaginable lengths that one had to go to terminate a demonstrably incompetent teacher in New York City. Not surprisingly, few administrators even try.

Do we always have the courage (and well-placed compassion) to fire an employee in the best interests of the company?

Fortunately, most of our workplaces aren’t nearly this extreme in protecting poorly performing employees.  Yet and still, I wonder if in trying to guard against lawsuits by forcing managers to “dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t’ ” before signing off on a termination,  HR professionals are often guilty of damaging the organization and its employees in unintended but real ways.

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What Nurses Can Teach Us About HR (Courage and Compassion)

From the title, you might expect this to be a post about service to others (i.e., what nurses do), as an analogy for HR’s service to employees and managers.  While there are any number of comparisons between nursing and HR (perhaps fodder for future posts), my focus today is on another aspect of HR, actually: hiring the right people (and letting go of the wrong ones).

Minor Surgery, Major Comfort

I had the occasion to have a short stay in a hospital recently for minor surgery (everything went very well; thank you kindly).  As it was (fortunately) my first overnight spent in a hospital, I was keenly aware of the type of care I received.  I was struck by the fact that, to a person, everyone I came into contact with seemed incredibly “at peace” with what they were doing — i.e., caring for patients, controlling pain, prepping for surgery, etc.  I’m sure that each of the nurses, technicians, doctors, etc., had their own personal struggles and hardships that they carried into the hospital that day.  Yet, once the “lights went on” and they were interacting with patients (in this case, me), all of those struggles vanished, as they made me feel like I was their only patient, and all of their efforts were going toward meeting my needs.

It was quite a humbling experience, to be candid — i.e., to see a team of people working together, in this case to prepare for, carry out, and help me recover from, surgery.  They each seemed to go about their jobs with a certain  Continue reading