Words like “boss” or “manager” used to be associated with authoritative leadership styles, where the leader exercised control and authority over their subordinates.

Nowadays, however, people, their experience, knowledge, skills, and the relationships between them play a crucial role in achieving a company’s success. Therefore, new leadership styles have emerged. In today’s article, we’ll compare two of them, namely inclusive and compassionate leadership. Read on to find out more.

What is compassionate leadership?

Leaders who adopt a compassionate leadership style (also known as empathetic leadership) demonstrate empathy, understanding, and care for the employees’ well-being. By being sensitive to their needs and emotions, they try to create a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. This fosters higher motivation among their subordinates and improves the overall company’s performance.

After the COVID-19 pandemic, employees expect compassionate leaders who would prioritize their well-being (physical and mental health, work-life balance, etc.). The main characteristics of this leadership style are as follows:

  • Empathy – empathizing with others, as well as understanding their views and experiences,
  • Well-being – showing interest in employees’ health and improving their work-life balance,
  • Active listening – giving employees time to express their thoughts, concerns, needs, and goals, acknowledging their input, and taking their perspective into account when making decisions,
  • Support – helping employees solve their problems and overcome challenges,
  • Development – offering guidance and mentorship to help employees in their professional growth.

What is inclusive leadership?

Inclusive leadership focuses on three key elements: equity, diversity, and inclusiveness (as its very name suggests). Leaders taking this approach try to create a welcoming atmosphere where everyone is respected, included, and valued for their unique perspectives, experiences, and contributions. In this way, they build innovative and harmonious teams that perform better and are more satisfied with their work. Some key features of inclusive leadership are:

  • Fairness and equity – eliminating barriers that may hinder employees’ development and treating everyone the same way,
  • Acceptance and respect – respecting differences between individual team members (cultural, ethnic, gender, age, etc.) and creating a friendly atmosphere, free of prejudice and discrimination,
  • Active listening – allowing employees to express their opinions, share ideas and insights,
  • Mutual trust – creating a collaborative culture at work through transparent communication and openness,
  • Support and guidance – engaging in employees’ professional development, providing growth opportunities, and implementing mentorship programs.

Compassionate leadership or inclusive leadership?

It can be easily noticed that these two, compassionate leadership and inclusive leadership styles have a lot in common, therefore it’s difficult to decide which of them will be better for your team or organization. What’s more, they both have been proven in the contemporary business environment and can help achieve the set goals.

The first approach lets leaders understand and respond to employees’ needs and emotions, fostering strong relationships, increasing motivation, and strengthening loyalty to the organization. The second leadership style, in turn, allows them to create an inclusive environment and tap the potential of every team member, which leads to better outcomes. Embracing various perspectives enhances innovation and facilitates adaptation to change, which are equally important in modern times.

Compassionate leadership

Inclusive leadership and compassionate leadership – summary

Although there are certain differences between compassionate leadership and inclusive leadership, they both complement and reinforce each other. By combining these two styles, leaders may create a supportive environment where individuals feel valued and empowered to make contributions.

Leaders can show empathy, care, and understanding toward others while making sure that all team members feel equal, respected, and included. Most importantly, however, they must tailor their approach to their specific needs, the organizational culture, and the nature of the company, while remaining flexible in their actions.

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A comparative look at inclusive and compassionate leadership nicole mankin avatar 1background

Author: Nicole Mankin

HR manager with an excellent ability to build a positive atmosphere and create a valuable environment for employees. She loves to see the potential of talented people and mobilize them to develop.