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Leading with compassion and inclusion is an effective style of communication that fosters positive relationships with clients, grows collegiality, and promotes a more harmonious and productive work environment.

All these benefits sound great in principle, but they do require intentional practice and a willingness to be awkward at first.

Like any new habit, we are not immediate experts, and this can be hard if you are always on the top of your game.  Learning something new means we can feel vulnerable, awkward, and publicly embarrassed if we get it wrong. So, part of this new skill will require us to be ok about being vulnerable and start to focus on the other. To initiate conversations even when we feel uncomfortable. You will also benefit from taking time to reflect on your own biases and preferences.

Leading with compassion and inclusion is always a work in progress. The benefits can be widely enjoyed: fostering secure professional relationships with clients and enjoying the benefits of working with a collaborative and supportive team.

There is an art to communicating with compassion and inclusion. Here are ten key principles and tips:

Empathy and active listening

Practise active listening to understand the perspectives and feelings of others.

Demonstrate empathy by acknowledging and validating the experiences of your team members.

Psychosocial safety with open kind communication

Foster an environment where open and kind communication is encouraged.

Create opportunities for team members to share their thoughts, ideas, and concerns without fear of judgment.

Cultural Competence

Develop cultural competence by understanding and appreciating the diversity within your team.

Be aware of cultural differences and ensure that your leadership style is inclusive of various backgrounds.

Flexible leadership style

Adapt your leadership style to accommodate different personalities and work preferences.

Recognise and appreciate the unique strengths that each team member brings to the table.

Encourage work-life balance practices

Encourage a healthy work-life balance by respecting personal time and boundaries.

Consider flexible work arrangements that accommodate individual needs and responsibilities.

Make a note of each person’s preferences.

Diverse perspectives

Actively seek out and include diverse perspectives in decision-making processes.

Create a culture that values and leverages the richness of different viewpoints.

Conflict resolution

Approach conflicts with a mindset of resolution rather than avoidance.

Provide a safe space for open dialogue and work towards finding mutually beneficial solutions.

Recognition and appreciation

Acknowledge and celebrate the accomplishments of individuals and the firm or working with you on the matters.

Express appreciation for the unique contributions each person you are working with on the project, makes for the overall success.

Continuous learning

Foster a culture of continuous learning and growth.

Support professional development opportunities that allow colleagues to expand their skills and knowledge.

Lead by example

Demonstrate the values of compassion and inclusion through your own actions and decisions.

Model the behaviour you expect from your colleagues.

By incorporating these principles into your leadership approach, you can create a work environment that values diversity, promotes collaboration, and enhances the well-being of your team members. Leading with compassion and inclusion not only strengthens collegiality but also benefits the culture of your workplace.

For more resources on wellbeing in the legal profession, explore the Law Society of NSW’s Staying Well In The Law Series, featuring training from subject matter experts in wellbeing topics. Together, we can nurture a culture of compassion and inclusion in the legal profession.