It's better to be feared than to be loved. That's Niccolò Machiavelli's advice in his 16th-century how-to on ruling a city-state, The Prince. For the all-powerful Medici family of Renaissance Florence, it might have been the perfect guiding principle, but in the contemporary workplace, it's a set-up for a toxic office culture.
Today, research has surfaced more and more evidence that compassion is actually the most powerful way to run a team. It's part of a growing theory of rethinking how we frame hierarchies and management. For instance, employees who feel they are treated well tend to stay healthier, whereas a draining workplace can actually be hazardous to your health. Other researchers are looking at new ways of framing competition, so workers don't constantly feel at war in their jobs.
Bringing compassion into your professional life doesn't have to be weird or uncomfortable. Sometimes it's just as simple as figuring out how you interpret stress. We also have research into why your jerk boss is a jerk, and how to know if you're thriving at work. All of these are ways to step outside what you're feeling about your job and see the bigger picture.
Compassionate bosses and employees are more likely to foster amazing office cultures, in which colleagues trust each other — especially if that helps them both succeed and fail. Personal and professional growth is way more likely in work environments where people feel supported. Give yourself and your team the biggest advantage you can, simply by going in and being your best self.