Practicing Compassionate Leadership to Enhance Safety and Productivity in the Mining Industry

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The mining industry can be rough and tough. At every turn, there is hard labor, a difficult decision to make, and high-performance goals to meet. How leaders in the industry approach their role can make all the difference in workers’ lives and their willingness to achieve goals. Practicing compassionate leadership is not only vital to the well-being of the employees, but also the success of our company and clients.

Leading with compassion is one tool that leaders and consultants can use to drive their employees or peers to resonate with goals that far exceed themselves as individuals. In any industry, if the leaders use these skills, the organization is more likely to fulfill its purpose. This translates to being especially important in the mining industry because of the strenuous nature of the work and high-performance targets.

Compassionate leadership has three components – empathy, understanding motivation, and cognitive awareness. One critical role we see that regularly benefits from leading with compassion is the dispatcher. Our Value Added Dispatch Training not only enhances the technical ability of the dispatcher, but can completely transform the role. We use these three main components as a part of our delivery, and more importantly, as a leadership methodology.

Empathy

Empathy is the ability to place oneself in another’s position and proceed with understanding. It is a skill that needs constant practice when developing and practicing quality leadership. When dispatchers practice empathy daily, value is brought to working relationships by building a rapport of trust. Deepening the trust in communication among teams creates a culture of collaboration in the work environment, and in turn, we see improvements in overall workplace mental health as well and performance.

The work of a dispatcher requires them to always be “on” with rare moments of getting to sit still or rest. For many people, this creates anxiety, stress, and tension. We understand that transitioning to this leadership style can be difficult for many dispatchers due to the already demanding work environment they experience. Our expert staff and coaches lead by example by approaching Added Value Dispatch Training with empathy, as they have been in dispatcher’s shoes and done the same work to change leadership styles.

In this way, they can resonate with the dispatchers that they train and coach. Approaching the training with empathy lays the groundwork and sets the example for the dispatcher to lead with compassion and sets them up for success.

Understanding Motivation

The relationship built by practicing empathy is further deepened when understanding motivation comes into play. Compassionate leadership is a unique approach to mindfully guide and build teams. This style of leadership asks that the practitioner first looks within and then extends empathy, kindness, and understanding to both his or herself and then to others in the workplace.
A common approach that dispatchers use to motivate people is to drive hard and reach results at all costs. Changing this approach to motivating and leading a team through understanding not only creates a positive working environment and culture but can entirely change the landscape of the industry.

Many times dispatchers are the single point of contact for many operators at the mine; their voice is the one that is constantly heard and echoing through the radio channels. Due to this, we recognize that dispatchers have significant influence on the behavior of the employees throughout the day. Traditionally, dispatchers are not coached or taught that they hold this tremendous power to change lives and motivate others to do their work.

A great dispatcher harnesses their power of influence and is constantly motivating the operators to achieve targets and follow direction in the most timely and efficient way.

Cognitive Awareness

Cognitive awareness is a final toolkit piece of compassionate leadership. It is the instinctive ability for leaders to make the best overall decisions. Great dispatchers make consequential production decisions very frequently. These decisions have a synergistic impact on one another; one right or wrong decision could have a massive impact. When faced with difficult decisions, the dispatcher has to consider many variables, some of which include corporate and daily goals, worker’s safety, and equipment capacity. By training to successful cognitive awareness, we groom the dispatcher to instinctively make the best decisions in a fast-paced environment.

As consultants, Outliers tackles this issue on a deeper level. We seek to understand what they are thinking and why they came to hold their opinion or their decision. Through our coaching and training, we create an awareness of this power and we ask people to harness it constantly. Moreover, as coaches and trainers, we walk-the-walk by making sure we take care of their concerns by addressing it to management and creating slow but noticeable change in their way of work. These small changes could be as simple as listening and taking action on their ideas of operating best practices, advocating for better amenities, or providing much-deserved recognition.

This is a unique form of continuous improvement that is gained through leading with compassion and via awareness. It is only through this level of cognition that we can change behaviors and mindsets that may have been instilled for years.

The mining industry is heavily people-driven and results are seen in real-time. In action, we’ve seen compassionate leadership create a collaborative culture that drives many people towards a common goal. The benefits of this include not only reaching daily and corporate targets, but an increase in communication and safety in the workplace. We give dispatchers the right technical tools and methods for effective decision making. The training we provide not only breaks outdated personal habits of leaders, but it is a stepping stone to breaking faulty institutional practices. Changing the mindset from within is successful because we seek to understand what the leader is thinking and why they came to hold their opinion or their decision.

Approaching leadership roles in this way not only builds trusting relationships, but leads to inherent compassion and wisdom of understanding the team to successfully guide them through demanding and difficult situations.

At Outliers Mining Solutions, we believe that to make our clients successful, we must first practice compassionate leadership within. Our teams of subject matter experts, change management professionals, coaches, and trainers are encouraged to practice compassionate leadership and are experienced in transitioning into it. We firmly believe in using our experiences to lead by example when working with clients.

Outliers Mining Solutions offers a variety of training services to help our clients navigate the physical and social demands within the mining industry.

For more details on the Value Dispatch or our Supervisory Training programs and to view our other offerings visit https://outliersminingsolutions.com/value-added-dispatch.

Salar Javid is the CEO and Co-Founder of Outliers Mining Solutions.