Leadership•September 29, 2023
Gentle leadership is an emerging and influential style of management that emphasizes compassion, humility, and empathy. As business schools aim to develop great future leaders, understanding and cultivating this leadership style is critical.
The concept of what we call gentle leadership was first introduced by author James Hunter. Gentle leaders lead by serving their teams and putting the needs of others first. They show respect and seek to persuade rather than coerce.
Studies have found that leaders who exhibit compassion are perceived as stronger and more effective. Gentle leadership builds trust, enhances collaboration and commitment, and lowers turnover.
Organizations with gentle leaders experience higher productivity and better outcomes. A study by Daniel Goleman and presented in Harvard Business Review found that gentle leadership is linked to performance and, in turn, revenue growth. Rather than ruling by fear, these leaders empower people through vision, trust, and understanding. They focus on developing teams through encouragement and constructive feedback. They are self-aware and make growth in these areas a priority. This type of leadership leads to increased morale and efficiency.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. - Matthew 11:29, Bible, King James Version
Experts recommend focusing on emotional intelligence, active listening, and leading by example. Gentle leaders ask thoughtful questions and acknowledge team members’ perspectives. They delegate responsibilities to help team members grow.
Courses in mindfulness and compassion can build empathy and self-control. Mentorship from other gentle leaders provides invaluable guidance.
There are many ways to become a more mindful leader. The most prominent ones are:
As economies and businesses grow more complex, gentle leadership will continue to gain influence. It emphasizes humility, compassion, and service to others and benefits organizations, teams, and individuals. Business schools serve students well by highlighting gentle leadership principles and equipping graduates to lead with care and wisdom.
Whether it is Models of Self-Identity, Leadership and Embodiment Practices, or Integral Development and Transformative Leadership, Meridian University’s MBA in Creative Enterprise programming is actuating our next generation of global leaders. With a focus on whole-person and whole-system competencies, graduates gain unique strategic perspectives not found in other programs.