Though countless studies verify that compassionate leadership yields better business results, many leaders still refrain from showing genuine emotion and vulnerability in moments when their teams actually need to see it most. That lack of sincere expression often alienates employees and makes already difficult situations even more volatile.
First, let’s state the obvious: It is never easy – or comfortable – to let others know you feel upset, awkward, uncertain, or even incompetent. But in the right situation, honestly reflecting that reality can be a truly powerful (and unifying) display of strength.
Doing the right thing is often difficult
Just such an event occurred at Encore Capital Group during a difficult layoff of 110 employees. In today’s tumultuous global economy, it’s impossible for companies to guarantee employment. Hard calls sometimes get made. But just because it’s the “right decision” doesn’t make executing that decision easy.
CEO Brandon Black and his executive team wanted the process handled with care so that departing employees could walk out with their heads held high, knowing they weren’t abandoned by the organization. The leadership team agreed to make themselves accessible for every question that came up – and to be patient when people got angry or cried.
The largest headcount reduction was to occur at their Phoenix office where about thirty three percent of the employees were being let go. Encore’s SVP of Operations, Jim Syran, went there to personally deliver the message. On the day of the layoffs, the leadership team had a call at noon to report progress at each site. In Phoenix, things went as well as could be expected.
No one wants to look like the “bad guy”
Jim did an amazing job of delivering the message in a way that didn’t come across scripted or distant. Instead of blaming the change on industry challenges or a corporate mandate, he took ownership for the decision.