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. In the organizations where I coach, employees report that their best leaders are the ones who are empathetic, sympathetic and understanding—in other words, considerate.
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 already 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 employee 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 employees. 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 company. Employees 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 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. 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 compassion. It’s about having the ability to relate to and connect with people for the purpose of inspiring and empowering their lives.
N A T I O N A L B E S T S E L L E R
THE LEADERSHIP GAP
What Gets Between You and Your Greatness
After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.
Additional Reading you might enjoy:
- 12 Successful Leadership Principles That Never Grow Old
- A Leadership Manifesto: A Guide To Greatness
- How to Succeed as A New Leader
- 12 of The Most Common Lies Leaders Tell Themselves
- 4 Proven Reasons Why Intuitive Leaders Make Great Leaders
- The One Quality Every Leader Needs To Succeed
- The Deception Trap of Leadership
Photo Credit: Getty Images
Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.