Pope Francis once said, "A little bit of mercy makes the
world less cold and more just." Taken in the context of the
confessional or even the church's outreach efforts to the
poor, his words resound clearly. But in the often dog-eat-dog
business world, mercy might not seem to have a place with
maximizing profits and watching the bottom line.
In Lead with Mercy: The Business Case for Compassion (Lead
With Mercy Publishing, 2015), Robert Goodson draws on his
more than 20 years of experience as a student, Army officer
and executive to make the case for managers to demonstrate
mercy in the business world. A parishioner of Holy Spirit
Church in Annandale and graduate of the Virginia Tech Corps
of Cadets, he argues "there is indeed a place for mercy and
compassion in business; and not only is there a place for
such leadership, but it can lead to a successful, profitable
Goodson proposes a five-element framework for leading with
mercy: defining mercy; earning the right to lead; assuming
responsibility and accountability; providing clarity of
vision; and leading from one's own heart. Each chapter
describes one element and provides self-evaluation questions
for the reader to use in considering his own business style.
Mercy is defined as "compassion or forbearance shown
especially to an offender or to one subject to one's power."
For persons in positions of authority, Goodson argues that
such a definition encourages the "human" side of business,
whereby workers can feel greater motivation and loyalty. But
Goodson cautions managers that they must be sincere: "While
you may be given the authority to lead, no one can be given
the right to lead. You have to earn it."
Earning the right to lead goes hand-in-hand with leading by
example, a lesson in humility demonstrated by Our Lord when
He washed the feet of the apostles. Goodson recognizes that
at times, tough business decisions must be made to cut
expenses, but he suggests that laying the weight of such
decisions fully on the shoulders of lower-level workers does
not demonstrate that a manager is willing to share in the
burden. He illustrates leading by example during downsizing
by suggesting substituting cuts in travel expenses or senior
executive salaries before terminating positions.
Goodson stresses the importance of a leader showing mercy by
deciding to be accountable for his people rather than just
being responsible: "In short, if you are responsible, you are
very personally involved (in the work).
accountable leader, you define what to do rather than doing
Such a leader must rely and trust in the ability
of others to accomplish the tasks at hand." He argues that
people who are led with compassion are more productive, more
willing to take risks and consider new solutions to problems,
more trustworthy and more trusting. "People led with mercy
are then arguably more responsible," he says.
Having a clear vision helps a manager lead with mercy.
Goodson argues that employees will be more willing to "go the
extra mile" for a leader who shares with them the focus and
direction of the company/office/business. An effective leader
shows mercy by paying attention not only to the bottom line
but also to the customers and the product.
The final element of the framework for leading with mercy,
leading from the heart, actually involves love. Goodson
offers that effective leaders demonstrate a selfless,
sacrificial, unconditional type of love that shows they truly
want to serve. A leader shows mercy and compassion by
sincerely recognizing, encouraging and celebrating his
Goodson's book is a fairly easy read at 63 pages and is
written for a secular audience but with clear influences from
his own faith. A self-described "big Pope Francis fan,"
Goodson offers a timely book on leading with mercy since the
pope announced the Jubilee Year of Mercy beginning in
December. Frequently speaking on the subject of mercy, Pope
Francis once offered an image of Jesus in which all the
elements in Goodson's book can be recognized: "In His mercy,
He never tires of stretching out His hand to lift us up, to
encourage us to continue our journey, to come back and tell
Him of our weakness, so that He can grant us His strength."
It is clear: Jesus is the ultimate example of leading with
Get the book
Go to outskirtspress.com/leadwithmercy