“Look for a way to lift someone up. And if that’s all you do, that’s enough”. Elizabeth Lesser.
There have been numerous discussions and viewpoints about the must-have traits in a leader. Some argue a strong and effective leader must be a good communicator, while others are of the view that a leader should be powerful as well as intellectual. Others feel their leader should be accountable, agile, and responsible. But there’s one trait that every successful leader must have, and that’s compassion.
To be great, leaders must show empathy towards their team. Empathy begins with putting yourself in other’s shoes and understanding life from the experience and perception of another. If a leader is empathetic towards his team, he or she will never be defensive about his or her decisions and the outcome will be something positive. Empathy opens doors and removes confusion, as well as softens the minds and hearts of others.
Compassionate leaders understand and acknowledge that the people surrounding them are intelligent, skilled, creative, and innovative. Effective leaders are open and modest who are always keen to learn from their team members. They are open to constructive feedback from their team and peers in contrast to non-compassionate leaders who stubbornly believe they know everything and are not at all ready to listen to their team’s ideas or suggestions. Leadership requires new learning every day, and through compassion, leaders can learn new skills, ideas from people around them.
Another task that a compassionate leader is always trusted with is – removing barriers. Compassionate leaders know that every individual has strengths and weaknesses. They mentor and encourage each member to use their strengths to the maximum to overcome their weaknesses and achieve goals. Once a leader is able to help his or her team members fight their inhibitions and inner fears, the next step is to help them remove external barriers like communication with peers, clients, and other stakeholders.
A selfish and self-centered leader is no leader! Compassionate leaders live with an attitude of abundance and don’t believe in micro-management. They focus on the needs of the team rather than highlighting their shortcomings. They view challenges as opportunities rather than dread and encourage their team members to keep their morale high no matter what the situation is. Success for these compassionate leaders is defined in terms of the positive impact they create on others.
“One of the most important actions, things a leader can do, is to lead by example. If you want everyone else to be passionate, committed, dedicated, and motivated, you go first!” – Marshall Goldsmith. Compassionate leaders are great influencers. They guide, acknowledge, support and lead their team with confidence, perseverance, work ethic and good sense to achieve the greater good from the combined efforts, skills, talents, enthusiasm and commitment.
Compassionate leaders know that “Alone we can do so little, together we can make wonders happen!” Therefore, they emphasize terms like teamwork, team effort, collaboration, etc., to achieve common goals. They provide constant support and guidance to help their teams succeed.
Compassionate leaders know that it is all about looking beyond their pain to see the pain of others. It is not about guiding and supporting – it is about understanding the importance of individual strengths and weaknesses to overcome challenges and harness opportunities. In the words of Confucius, “Wisdom, compassion, and courage are the three universally recognized moral qualities of men”.
Are you a compassionate leader? If you are looking to read further around this topic and want to learn other leadership traits, go and check out our leadership blogs.