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Living above the line: How to lead with compassion

Researchers have developed a framework to clearly show the six defined behaviours of compassionate, courageous leaders.

Everything seems different right now. Because, in many ways, in the span of a few days and weeks, everything changed. And this change calls for a different kind of leadership. Right now, more than ever, we need to be leaders who lead with compassion.

To help understand what this looks like, Dr. Brad Shuck, Assistant Professor and Program Director at the University of Louisville, developed a framework to clearly show the six defined behaviours of compassionate, courageous leaders. We call living into those behaviours living ‘above the line’.

Those six behaviours include: dignity, authenticity, presence, accountability, empathy, and integrity.

Where are you?

The behaviours below the line — humiliation, insincerity, distractedness, avoidance, detachment, and dishonesty represent dysfunctional behaviours – behaviours that are ultimately destructive to your culture and company. It, of course, takes courage to live above the line and lead with compassion, especially when everything feels different. In times of stress and chaos, it might feel easy to operate below the line and be distracted and detached, for example, especially when we are faced with obstacles we've never experienced before. But, living here – below the line – can create more problems that build over time and have a cost in the long-term.

The surprising truth about this model is that it applies to our situation today more than ever.

When it comes to inspiring people or inspiration, leaders make all the difference.

As previously mentioned, dysfunctional leaders can destroy an engaging culture and wreak havoc on long-term performance. On the other hand, leaders who are authentic, who treat employees with dignity and inclusion, and who create space for teams to do their best work can – they inspire a workplace that transforms and propels their organization forward.

Using the latest research in collaboration with Dr. Shuck, this evidence-based approach walks leaders through small changes that have a huge impact. BI WORLDWIDE Canada supports the development of your leaders using these three key insights:

1. Compassionate leader index

Dr. Shuck has developed this index to provide leaders with feedback about how well their behaviours align to the model. We provide feedback to leaders and those who support them via an online, 360 degree tool. We aggregate results across a group of leaders to provide you with actionable insights in the ongoing development of leaders at your organization.

2. Learning modules

Each learning module is designed for leaders at all levels seeking to build a better place to work, retain their employees at higher levels, and provide opportunities for employees to be engaged and productive - everyday.

Here's what you'll learn about in this series:

    • Introduction to Re-engaging Employee Engagement
    • The Cumulative Effect
    • The Principle of Reciprocity
    • Dysfunctional Leaders
    • Compassionate Leaders
    • The Importance of Recognition

Individual coaching for executives is available, as well as train-the-trainer support for internal subject matter experts.

3. Recognition

For BI WORLDWIDE Canada clients who utilize our DayMaker or SalesMaker platforms, we can support budgets and badging to reinforce leader “above the line” behaviours. We can also offer tangible awards and branded merchandise to support this important culture change effort.

There is no template for how to lead during an unprecedented time. Compassion provides a guiding framework to use as a map. And compassionate leadership gives us a guide for what great leadership can look like and how we can be extraordinarily effective. As leaders, we get to define how work will be done in the future – the challenge is to make sure we set the opportunity now by leading above the line.

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Dr. Brad Shuck

Dr. Brad Shuck

Associate Professor and Program Director of the Human Resource and Organizational Development program University of Louisville

Dr. Brad Shuck is an internationally recognized thought leader in the areas of employee engagement, leadership, and employee health and wellbeing. His work has been positioned as industry-leading and at the bleeding edge of research driven evidence-based practice. Shuck is routinely featured in US-based international media outlets including Forbes, The Washington Post, and TIME, as well as international outlets such as Business World Online, India’s Economic Times, and the Hindu Times. Shuck has worked with leaders in virtually every industry throughout the public and private sectors across four continents. His insights are widely applied in both the world’s largest Fortune 500 and Fortune 50 companies, as well as small and medium-sized organizations seeking to grow and empower employees.

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