This article is a translation of a French article, written by Julien Rigoulay.

Benevolent leadership is a concept at the heart of discussions in companies that want to innovate and boost productivity. Initially seen as naive or just a trend following on from the humanist movement, benevolence in the workplace is now considered a “strong lever” for attracting employees.

With the massive retirement of the baby boom generation, wage portage, and young executives increasingly attracted by positions abroad, the current context forces companies to review their management style. Indeed, in order to recruit reliable and motivated employees, companies must adopt a different, more ethical and attractive policy.

This is where benevolence comes into play: it breaks the hierarchical structure that reflects aggressive practices in the corporate world. When each individual feels at ease in their work environment, they become more productive and feel more involved. But before we go any further, let’s take a closer look at this concept to make it really beneficial for your company.

Benevolent leadership, what is it exactly?

To boil it right down, here are the main points that make the difference in a benevolently-managed company:

Inviting collaborators to take part in major decisions

When managers promote discussion around major decisions within their company, they empower their team members. This is an effective strategy to make employees feel more involved. Indeed, when each individual feels that they are contributing to the company’s development, it creates attachment. Note that management itself doesn’t have to be collaborative, but discussion is always important before making any major decisions.

Adopting a caring attitude and always being attentive

A manager who’s not afraid to smile is like a breath of fresh air in the workplace. Not only does it make team members more relaxed, but it also makes them more likely to share crucial information should a problem arise, helping to reach a resolution more quickly. Indeed, a stern-faced manager can put employees off from sharing their thoughts. 

It’s also vital for managers to have good listening skills. Not only is the information provided by the teams always important for making good decisions, but their active participation also motivates them. When a manager pays attention and acts on the recommendations of a team member, the latter will feel more motivated.

A benevolent manager, but no “cronyism”

To be a good manager, you have to treat all your employees equally. Indeed, benevolence does not mean being “buddies” with everyone. We must not lose sight of the ultimate aim: to serve the interests of the company. To achieve this, the manager must manage team members equally without playing favourites.

Recognizing that mistakes happen and promoting communication

Employees learn and forge themselves in part by making mistakes. A benevolent manager must accept that to err is human and recognize that people are bound to mess up from time to time. This kind of mindset fosters confidence within a team by taking the pressure off and promoting a good atmosphere at work. However, benevolence does not mean that there are no consequences, but they must be proportional to the mistake made.

Communication plays a vital role in benevolent management. A manager with strong communication skills can share information or announce decisions with ease. For example, if salary increases are to reflect individual performance, this detail must be communicated from the beginning. That being said, it will be easier for the manager to explain if some team members don’t get an increase. However, bad news must always be announced with respect and finesse.

How to manage with kindness?

Although the concept of benevolent leadership is on the lips of business leaders and heads of department everywhere, it seems to be little more than a good intention. Indeed, most who try to implement it tend to forget that it requires a real implementation plan. A profound change must be made in order to get results.

Company leaders must define a new management approach, possibly with the help of a specialized coach. The organization must also evolve to promote benevolence within the company while respecting the specificities of the company. A dynamic and solid balance must be created and maintained within a positive environment that promotes efficiency and energy. Here are some recommendations that will help you achieve a genuine transformation.

The process must be global

The project must come from the top of the hierarchy and encompass each and every one of the company’s departments and teams. Indeed, if benevolent management is practiced by only one manager, it won’t affect the whole organization.

Benevolence needs to be more than just a Human Resources Department project. It must become a source of motivation for each individual. Employees need to be involved and motivated to help managers move forward, especially in times of crisis. Indeed, when teams are loyal, there is less turnover: the presence of each individual contributes to the smooth overall running of the company and boosts productivity.

Every employee counts 

The concept of corporate benevolence implies that a radically individual-oriented policy be established. Each person must feel useful and special. The professional and personal lives of every team member matters. Some leaders think that giving more time to the personal life of an employee will make him or her less productive. On the contrary! If managers give more importance to employees’ personal life and well-being, they will be more productive. 

Fostering this perspective requires managers who know how to listen. When an employee makes an effort, they must be recognized for their true value. This encourages them to be more creative and to feel more involved in the company life, which automatically fosters a feeling of belonging.

A recent study revealed that over the next decade, it’s the candidates who will choose which company they want to work for rather than the other way around. Managers will have to set up a recruitment system that attracts the profiles they want.

Many changes have to be made before benevolent leadership can become more than just a good intention. The outdated practices of previous generations will no longer suffice. If companies fail to adapt their approach, productivity will decline. Balance has become all important in the employee-company relationship: managers will have to step up their efforts to implement benevolence if they want to grow company profits!

What about you, have you taken the plunge? Share your experience in the comments section below!


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