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Compassionate leadership: the way to address mental health?

M&IT’s recent Mental Health Survey revealed that mental ill health is fast reaching epidemic proportions in the events industry. Here Chris Parnham, MD of Absolute Corporate Events, tells us why without compassionate leadership, the situation will only worsen…

“We hear a lot about mental health issues today, more so than ever before. Compassionate leadership is a clear solution to this problem.

“Of course, there must always be pressure for improvement and efficiencies, more for less, the latest win or confirmation, but these goals must also be tempered and suited to the individuals involved. A compassionate leader prepares their team for success rather than demands it. A team is much more likely to be successful if it wants to succeed rather than being told this is the only option.

“Compassion does not signal weakness, as has often been the perception. Those struggling with their mental health are not permanently broken. A compassionate leader will prepare a team for success but will ensure all the players have the tools, ability, good health and wellbeing and confidence to play their part. Some will be winning from the front line, while others are quietly securing the foundations of on-going success. Both are critical roles to long-term success.

“Openness and safety are the keys to compassionate leadership. In today’s world, employees should feel that they can be open about their pressures and challenges, whether they are at work or at home. As one undoubtedly affects the other. Understanding another’s pain or pressure can lead to a breakthrough in confidence, trust and performance.

“Compassionate leaders do not judge, they listen. They have time for their people and can adapt their approach to suit the person and the situation. At Absolute Corporate Events, we practise Compassionate Leadership and we are very aware of today’s mental health challenges.

“Also, we are very supportive of the HBAA’s stance on mental health in the events sector, spearheaded by ACE’s very own Angie Mason, the current HBAA chair. The HBAA is leading the way for mental health awareness and now offers mental health first aid courses, certified two-day courses open to all members. A dedicated help page is being added to the HBAA website, with resources, toolkits and signposts to support members with their mental health issues.”