Compassion and Service Go Hand and Hand

It's no surprise that culture is the key to driving service, sales, growth, and empowerment in organizations today. Culture can make or break those within the company which in turn impacts client and vendors in the marketplace. We all have our favorite culture needs but have you given any thought to championing for compassion within your organization?

How many companies have you read about that even have compassion as a goal? I still remain stumped and never gave thought to compassion being a key component that organizations are lacking until I read the new book Awakening Compassion at Work by Monica C. Worline and Jane E. Dutton. Below is a guest post from the authors and I would love to hear your thoughts!

If Your Business Competes Through Service, You Need More Compassion at Work
Monica C. Worline & Jane E. Dutton

Try this thought experiment: First, remember the last time you ate at a restaurant with poor service. Second, remember the last time you ate at a restaurant with great service. Which one would you rather return to today?

Many organizations, like those restaurants, depend on delivering high-quality service to build their competitive advantage. But managers and leaders often overlook or undervalue compassion in service encounters as an important aspect of distinctive service quality.

When Sarah’s grandmother died, she spent time cleaning out the house, immersed in memories. Sarah’s children were young and mystified by what was happening. The family stopped at a nearby restaurant for a much-needed bite to eat. Five-year-old Sonia started to cry, missing her great grandmother and the chocolate milk that had been their favorite treat together.

Lindsey’s shift had just started when she took the family’s order. It struck her that the young mother had asked for a dish that hadn’t been on the menu in years. Lindsey brought drinks out and the children were crying. Asking the little girl what was wrong, Lindsey learned of the death of Sonia’s beloved grandmother, who used to make special chocolate milk. After sharing hugs and telling the family how sorry she was for their loss, Lindsey stopped at the manager’s desk. She arranged to get them chocolate milk, and also for the restaurant to take care of their bill. That act of compassion as part of the restaurant’s service made a distinctive impression and won them a loyal customer.

It turns out that wasn’t the end of the story, though. Leaving Lindsey a sizable tip that night, Sarah wrapped the money inside a napkin with a simple note: “Thank you for your kindness and compassion, and the love you showed to complete strangers tonight.” A few months later, Sarah and her family were wrapping up details related to her grandmother’s funeral and they stopped at the same restaurant. Lindsey had just started her shift. She delivered water and menus to her new table, then she stopped in her tracks. Hugging broke out. She welcomed the family by name. She remembered their favorite foods and brought Sonia her chocolate milk.

At the end of the meal, Lindsey showed the inside of her black order pad to Sarah. Taped inside was Sarah’s note from the napkin. It buoyed Lindsey up on every shift, and helped her keep her calm when she encountered difficulty customers. One act of compassion had rebounded, helping bolster both the giver and the receiver.

Research by the Gallup organization shows that genuine expressions of compassion such as this one, when delivered authentically as part of high-quality service, create brand loyalty and forge lasting bonds with customers. These emotional bonds are far stronger aspects of great service than almost anything else organizations can do.

The great news is that research supports the idea that when employees give feelings and actions as gifts to customers, like Lindsey did for Sarah, employees feel better about work as well. Daniel Homan and Lonnie Collins Pratt in their book Radical Hospitality remind us about the power of service as a meaningful aspect of work: “It isn’t just the food that we pass out that nourishes or impoverishes the human heart. … Work is always for the service of others.” Making room for compassion as part of your customer service strategy opens the door for work that is more genuinely meaningful and customers who are more genuinely delighted and loyal.

If you have story of compassion and service quality, we’d love to read about it in the comments.



Monica Worline, PhD, is CEO of EnlivenWork. She is a research scientist at Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education and Executive Director of CompassionLab, the world’s leading research collaboratory focused on compassion at work.

Jane Dutton, PhD, is the Robert L. Kahn Distinguished University Professor of Business Administration and Psychology and cofounder of the Center for Positive Organizations at the Ross School of Business. She has written over 100 articles and published 13 books, including Energize Your Workplace and How to Be a Positive Leader. She is also a founding member of the CompassionLab.

Their new book, Awakening Compassion at Work, available now on Amazon, reveals why opening our eyes to the power of compassion is smart business.



The Hidden Leader : Discover And Develop Greatness Within Your Company

"To Hidden Leaders everywhere. You are the powerhouses driving creativity, productivity, and innovation in business" - Scott K. Edinger and Laurie Sain

How many Hidden Leaders leap into your mind?

I have always been fascinated by growing any plant that I can get my hands on. As I grew up and entered the "real" world my love for growth transferred to people and relationship building. As a manager, I love finding that special "thing" in people and mentoring them to grow and develop. It's a humbling experience to see my people grow in their field and become leaders.  I'm a true believer that the best leaders don't have titles or are a designated position. The best leaders are "Hidden Leaders".

I was fortunate to be given a copy of the new book "The Hidden Leader: Discover And Develop Greatness Within Your Company" by Scott K. Edinger and Laurie Sain. The book launches today and it's a book that every "official" and "unofficial" leader should read. That means you! It's a book that you will find yourself referencing frequently as you look around your company or within your own team. The best leaders can be found in unusual places in every company. Leadership is what people do. Hidden Leaders are all over and can be your best advocates and "powerhouses". You just need to look a bit closer to find them.

My favorite aspect of this book is how interactive it is. I'm a bit of a tech geek and there are plenty of resources to use in this book. There are numerous online resources including worksheets and analytical tools for the mobile phone, tablet, and PC. There are numerous QR codes that you can scan with your phone to catch tools at your fingertips. There's more! The book offers a very helpful appendix that has several tools to discover and develop Hidden Leaders. There is also a Hidden Leader community that you can join online to connect and share thoughts with others. These tools are what make The Hidden Leader such a great book to keep handy on your desk.

Scott and Laurie really capture the traits of Hidden Leaders and what gifts that these people possess. They are enthusiastic leaders to those that they work with and a smart company will realize what champions they are. They can bring and develop excellence within a company and really help drive positive change. Hidden Leaders have integrity, form authentic relationships, focus on actions, and are very customer purposed. They can make things happen without having a leadership title or position. Wow. Why would anyone in a "leadership" role not want to take the time and energy to seek out Hidden Leaders?

Hidden Leaders don't need to possess all  4 of the listed traits above to be effective. Perhaps they are newer to an organization or less seasoned. If a team member has a few of these traits they should be identified and mentored to develop the skills that they lack. Moreover, not everyone wants to be pulled up into the leadership ranks. Some people are fulfilled by making a difference right where they are. You can't just stop at finding Hidden Leaders. Managers need to pave the way and develop a strong, nurturing, accepting culture to help grow them. Anyone who feels that a company culture is oppressive or negative may not step up to be a leader no matter how focused and passionate they are. There needs to be a culture of acceptance, innovation, empowerment and ownership in order for people to thrive.

The authors really delve into what makes up a hidden leader. These leaders are willing to speak up with courage and make decisions. They have integrity and listen while being effective mentors. They lead without people realizing it. They are skillful at building relationships and really use their empathy and generosity to do so. Hidden Leaders have compassion, value others, are very honest and remain very curious. They really focus on acknowledging others and being transparent with their intentions. They skillfully seek out solutions and resolve conflicts without added drama. Doesn't this urge you on to find Hidden Leaders within your own team or organization? I can think of a few from my past experiences, yet I never had an effective label for them.

Effective Hidden Leaders are "customer purposed". This is a critical distinction from just being "customer focused". We all think that we are customer focused and being advocates for clients every day no matter what our positions. You know from personal experience that this isn't true! How many irritating horrible customer experiences have you had just in the last month? I bet quite a few. "Customer Purposed" Hidden Leaders take service to the next level. They really strive to give value to the paying customer. They form strong authentic business relationships and really view their role in terms of what value that they can provide. They really "get" the value promise of an organization and take ownership. They strive to make a difference and seek out ways to "make things right". They are always enthusiastic, have balanced communication skills, have a sense of urgency, an ownership mindset, and are true champions of change. These Hidden Leaders are gems. You really need to refine how you will find your own Hidden Leaders or even become one.

We all have a responsibility to locate and mentor our Hidden Leaders. Needless to say, they are people that surpass goals and bring in the numbers. You need to know what to look for, how to grow your Hidden Leader network, make a plan, and go! It's in all of our interests to find Hidden Leaders and deploy them throughout organizations. They are an invisible army to encourage others and bring about solutions and change.

Scott and Laurie really hit home with this book. In addition to all of the great tools that they offer, they present some real world examples of Hidden Leaders. They also point out "false" leaders. Anyone who interacts with people at any level will benefit and enjoy this book. There are so many Hidden Leaders in our communities and volunteer groups. Think of what we can achieve if we grow these important people? Look at the silent movers and shakers that you work with. They deliver so much, yet ask nothing in return. Pick The Hidden Leader up today and start seeking out the Hidden Leaders around you and work to deploy them.

Here's a link to buy The Hidden Leader: Discover And Develop Greatness Within Your Company

Happy reading! Let me know what you think about this wonderful read! Better yet? Become a Hidden Leader yourself!