Hult faculty Amy Bradley releases a new book next week. The Human Moment: The Positive Power of Compassion in the Workplace contends that compassion is the key to business performance this century. We sat down with the leadership professor to find out more.
Amy’s book engages with one of the most important, but so far neglected, aspects of a healthy workplace – compassion. It offers a transformative approach for leaders, managers and co-workers alike.
-Angela Chan, Former Head of Creative Diversity, Channel 4
Hi Amy. What’s behind the new book?
We live in a world in crisis. Societies are becoming fractured, opinions polarized and people are increasingly isolated. Many people spend more time at work than they do with family members. Yet few of us have someone at work who we trust enough to share our vulnerabilities or worries with. To be human is to suffer, yet our struggles can remain hidden from work.
This book argues that compassion is a core human value, which is too often overlooked in business. In these challenging, unprecedented times, workplaces have a crucial role to play. Managers need to foster kindness, care, and understanding for one another as humankind. That said, there is a dearth of knowledge in organizations about how to best support suffering at work. People often struggle to know what to say or do to best support their colleagues. Good intentions can be misinterpreted or seen as misguided, simply because of a lack of knowledge of the person concerned, or a lack of experience in this regard.
Who should read this book?
This book is for managers who want to find more “human” ways to lead. It’s also for HR professionals and executive coaches looking to support people in the wake of suffering. Additionally, employees working alongside colleagues who are facing a difficult episode in their lives may find this book useful. And finally, individuals themselves who are grappling with the challenges of work or study in the face of suffering may find this book to be a helpful companion. Based on a decade of research and packed with examples and case studies, this book argues that compassion is THE hidden key to business performance in the 21st Century.
A powerful and uplifting read, that should transform how businesses support their people.
-Andy Duncan, Head of Team Effectiveness, Royal Bank of Scotland
What’s the inspiration behind it?
I have been working with individuals and organizations for many years. And every time I talk about the topics covered in this book, it strikes a chord. When I present at conferences about my belief that our workplaces are becoming increasingly transactional, audiences nod vigorously. I describe my observation of “busyness” in organizations. People are so preoccupied with their own tasks and “to do” lists. As a result, they have a reduced capacity to notice and care for themselves – let alone their colleague down the corridor. I’ve witnessed how our reliance on technology to communicate means that our opportunities to connect and care for one another at a basic human level are decreasing.
I’ve been asked on countless occasions to give advice to leaders and managers struggling to know how to deal with a direct report who is going through a difficult life experience. When I work with teams and groups, I can see how superficially they know their colleagues when it comes to their life journeys and the experiences that have shaped them. I see time and again that when we have the courage to share our struggles with our colleagues, our work relationships can profoundly deepen. So, I am looking forward to putting my decade-long research into action to help individuals, teams, and organizations realize the positive power of compassion at work.
What are you teaching at Hult this year?
I am a based at the Ashridge campus, where I facilitate leadership programs for a variety of corporate clients. My particular areas of interest are employee engagement and what I call “re-humanizing organizations” through compassion at work. I am core faculty on the Executive Doctorate in Organizational Change (EDOC,) and at Hult I run a variety of leadership development courses and an undergraduate elective entitled Compassion, Human Suffering and the Ethics of Care, which has been described as “life-changing” by its participants. In its most recent iteration, this elective received a score of five out of five in student evaluations.
Any recent memorable moments from the classroom?
One Hult undergraduate student recently wrote to thank me for the elective and said: “I have learned how opening up and being vulnerable makes you stronger instead of the other way around. And being able to share that with our group was healing and powerful. Thank you again for allowing us to be humans again.” Another wrote to me on graduation and said: “As I finish my studies, I would like to let you know that I am glad to have met you. You are one of the most influential persons in my life. Thank you for helping me become a better human being.”
Watch Amy’s TEDx talk on compassion in the workplace
Order a copy of Amy’s book here.
Watch Amy’s webinar on this topic here.