Drama is what happens when we struggle against ourselves or each other to feel justified about our negative behaviors. Drama costs the US economy over $350 billion per year in lost productivity. When we are involved in drama, we are playing one of three roles; the Persecutor, Victim, or Rescuer. The behaviors associated with these roles are irresponsible and divert energy away from healthy relationships and organizational goals. Drama is an energy vampire.
While some people would like to adopt a zero tolerance policy against drama, this is neither realistic nor helpful.
The alternative to drama is Compassion. No, not the touchy-feely, let’s hold hands in a circle and sing campfire songs type of compassion. This type of compassion is the real deal, inspired by the original latin root.
Compassion originates from the Latin root meaning “co-suffering.”
Com means “together, alongside, or with another”. Passion means “to struggle or suffer.” Literally, compassion is about being in the trenches with someone, experiencing their struggle and joining them in that experience. The Passion of the Christ was a movie about Christ’s life that brought us alongside him in his suffering. It was a grueling movie to watch. Compassion is very hard work. Watch a 30 sec video where I share my perspective on compassion.
Compassion is more than empathy and caring, although these are necessary components. Compassion involves three interrelated skill-sets; Openness, Resourcefulness, and Persistence. I’ll explore these in more depth in future posts.
Compassion doesn’t mean letting someone off the hook, feeling sorry for them or “loving them into good behavior.” Compassion balances caring, concern, empathy and transparency with boundaries, goals, aspirations, and standards. It’s the engine that turns mistakes into stepping stones for success.
Compassionate Accountability is the process of holding someone (including yourself) accountable while preserving their dignity. Compassion energizes us to co-create something amazing.
Compassion in leadership makes a real difference. Researchers at Stanford University have found that a compassionate leader has significant positive impact on morale, engagement, and performance. Harvard Business Review summarizes their research,
Compassion and curiosity increase employee loyalty and trust. Research has shown that feelings of warmth and positive relationships at work have a greater say over employee loyalty than the size of their paycheck.
The HBR article is worth reading for any leader interested in choosing compassion over drama as a response to negative employee behavior and mistakes.
Compassionate Accountability the name of our new book, and the heart of our Leading Out of Drama program. We will continue to explore this concept in future posts, most importantly how to engage in positive conflict. What’s your perspective? How does this definition of compassion fit for you? What applications of this concept would you like to hear more about?
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