Leadership and Compassion

In these turbulent times in our country, there is a premium on the concepts of empathy and compassion.  A successful leader in any organization has to demonstrate his or her ability to feel compassion.

In any relationship, a person has to have the ability to see the issues or a perspective through the other person’s eyes (and ears and heart).  Once you understand another person’s perception and experience of an issue or event, you then have the ability to interact positively.

Company employees want to believe in their leaders.  Employees begin with the presumption of positive – they are open-minded about a new CEO and refrain from early judgments, unless and until proven wrong.

I have read numerous articles and watched videos on leadership traits, what makes a strong leader and the character traits that a leader needs to succeed.  Assuming a given level of talent, motivation and intelligence, a leader can distinguish himself or herself through important inter-personal skills – the ability to feel and communicate compassion.  A leader who feels compassion can connect with employees and can build a trust relationship by demonstrating their own human set of feelings and connections.

This all sounds kind of flaky but leadership to me is more intuitive than anything else.  A leader who is committed to an objective and needs to motivate an organization has to do so by demonstrating care and attention to his or her teammates and employees.

With all the reams of paper and electronic articles written on the subject, leadership boils down to plain common sense and human connection.  Some people have the ability to connect to people and some do not.

A leader’s ability to feel compassion requires some basic commitments:

  • To listen and hear employee concerns;
  • To understand employee concerns and perspectives;
  • To respond to and address employee concerns; and
  • To communicate clearly with employees.

These commitments appear to be another profound grasp of the obvious, but a leader who commits to these tasks can use the process to advance trust and integrity in the organization.

A CEO has extraordinary power to respond  and motivate employees – every employee wants to believe in his or her leadership and looks for signs of positive leadership.  Once an employee forms a positive opinion, it is hard to change that perspective.

A leader should never act selfishly, should sacrifice for the common good, and promote those that act to advance organizational objectives over individual gains.  If a leader is attentive to his or her employees, devotes the time necessary to listen and respond, a leader will find, for the most part, employees are loyal to the leader and the organization.

Leaders have to take time to cultivate this process, build in trust and then leverage it to the benefit of all employees and stakeholders.

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