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How can we have both Productive and Compassionate Leaders?

How can we have both productive and compassionate leaders? This question was the focus of this week’s  ‘People and Organisation Virtual Café’ discussing the challenges for leaders in organisations as they face into the ever developing situation of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Creator of the interactive HRM Virtual Café, Dr. Na Fu, polled participants to identify what a productive and compassionate leader looked like to them when taking into account the leader’s skills and behaviours. The results below showed the response.

Dr. Na Fu then turned to a panel of experts for their insights, which included both academics and practitioners from a range of backgrounds. Dr. Amanda Shantz, Associate Professor of Human Resource Management and Director of the Trinity MBA programme, noted that “Leaders are stepping up to the challenge and can now experiment with new ways of leading which in a normal environment they wouldn’t have. There is much more focus on wellbeing, which arguably should have always had a focus, but is now a focus due to the crisis.”

Patrick Gallen, Partner and Consultant for People and Change at Grant Thornton, highlighted how communication is two way. With different people facing different challenges such as working from home, active communication is essential, which leaders have stepped up to. He noted how “leading through change, particularly where it’s transformational, is something that will be tested in the weeks and months ahead.”

These remarks were added to by Melissa Sayer, Adjunct Assistant Professor at Trinity Business School, who stressed that “we can be empathetic towards someone and understand their perspective, but being compassionate means doing a bit more where we take action to alleviate the situation the person has found themselves in”. She also reiterated that this is a two way street between leaders and their teams, and how workers also need to have compassion for their leaders.

Optimism and hope were highlighted as key ingredients for organisations to maintain due to the uncertain timeline of the crisis, according to Shirley Kavanagh, Head of Talent and Organisation Effectiveness at UDG Healthcare. “The best we can do in organisations is that we can be optimistic in the sense that we can hit the ground running when opportunities arise.”

MSc in Human Resouce Management student Christine Zdelar, who had been observing up until this point, summarised succinctly some certainties we do have. “We will be working from home and there will be a financial impact. We can use these as a foundation to base our decision-making on as leaders. It provides some clarity and structure even if the larger picture is chaotic.”

Register here for the other upcoming virtual café events in the coming weeks.

Media Contact:

Ian Dunne, Marketing & Communications Officer | dunneia@tcd.ie | +353 1 896 2493