There will always be opinions and discussion about the traits that are important to strong leadership. But there’s one trait that every successful leader must have, and that’s compassion.
Compassion isn’t something you’re born with—it grows out of considerate behavior and a heart desire to see others succeed and prosper. In the organizations where I have worked, team members say that their best leaders are the ones who are empathetic, sympathetic and understanding—in other words, considerate and compassionate.
Here are some of the things great leaders do that you can emulate to build your own capacity for consideration and compassion:
They change up the conversation. Too many of us contribute to every conversation with statements about ourselves and our accomplishments. A considerate and compassionate leader understands that “I” isn’t especially useful as a conversation starter, and that when leaders stop focusing on their own egos they’re able to develop other leaders. The entire practice of compassion is about going from self to others, from “I” to “we.”
Those who focus on the value of others have a head start.
They work to build a collaborative culture. Compassionate leaders have concern for everyone. They excel at inviting the whole team to share in the organization’s vision and goals and to help create the action steps needed to achieve them. An environment where everyone can collaborate by sharing their ideas and offering creative solutions is an organization that thrives and—not coincidentally—where leadership excels.
They display compassion by listening. Effective leadership finds its source in listening and understanding. The amount of time you spend talking to and listening to an team member is a sign of how important you consider them to be—to you and to the organization. That’s why the best leaders spend a lot of time walking around and chatting with their team members. They invite their comments and encourage open discussion and disagreements about work. This approach results in an environment where people feel the work belongs to them as well as to the leaders. People feel good about themselves and more fully committed to doing the job and doing it well.
They embody positivity. It’s important for leaders to be able to empower and motivate others. The best way to accomplish that is simply to be a genuinely positive person. When you can develop a positive mental and heart attitude and be the kind of leader who always has something good to say, you make people feel comfortable around you and secure enough to tell you anything that needs to be said.
They invest their time. Time is among the most precious, and scarce, resources we have. Compassionate leaders know that time invested in their team will yield great dividends. When people feel they have a strong relationship with their leader because their leader is deeply invested in who they are, they’re willing to offer their best work—a win-win situation.
They show compassion by caring. There are lots of ways for leaders to show they care through support, mentorship and guidance, and especially approval and affirmation. When a leader expresses recognition, employees feel appreciated and organizations accomplish great things.
They walk their talk. Compassionate leaders are those who lead from within, those who have the ability to inspire others through encouragement and empowerment. When you treat people with compassion they never forget.
You cultivate people who want to work for you not because of what you do but because of who you are.
Lead from within: Leadership is about genuine love and compassion. It’s about having the ability to relate to and connect with people for the purpose of inspiring and empowering their lives. Leaders take ownership. They understand the value of every person. They don’t just talk the talk, they walk the walk… at home, and in their professional life. Their values have become their virtues, and others know it.
True Leadership is Shepherding
John 10 The Message
“I (Jesus), am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd puts the sheep before himself, sacrifices himself if necessary. A hired man is not a real shepherd. The sheep mean nothing to him. He sees a wolf come and runs for it, leaving the sheep to be ravaged and scattered by the wolf. He’s only in it for the money. The sheep don’t matter to him.” Another practical example of having a genuine heart to lead with great love demonstrated by the Great Shepherd… the best model there is.
BH/ Source: Lolly Daskal/Adapted