Leadership can be a tricky subject. You have probably read a lot of articles on the difference between being a boss and a leader, and while I’ve gleaned a lot of information from them, I wanted to take a deeper look as to why being a strong leader does not have to be divorced from the ever-important trait of compassion.
In fact, I believe you can’t have one without the other.
Leadership and Compassion have to shake hands with one another if you strive to be effective. Remember, if you want to be great then you have to be a selfless leader. There’s an old saying, “if you want something done well then do it yourself.” But I like to spin this into a message about leading by serving, and showing people that, no matter their position, you are never above a task or them.
This can actually serve as a great form of compassionate communication. By showing someone you are willing to complete a task when you are technically speaking, the boss, you show them that you care about their personhood and the environment you are creating. Actions speak louder than words, and compassion can actually be shown through a desire to help people with their tasks — alleviating their daily stresses by picking up some slack — and even going the extra mile to show them that, while you’re the boss, you care enough about them and their mental health to get your hands dirty every once in awhile. The Commanders that did this in the Army were the only ones that succeeded. Others that did not, often shot themselves in their own foot, received minimal respect, had unproductive workers and poor outcomes. These types never lasted long and rightfully so for the betterment of the department. Leading with kindness and compassion is the way to success for all organizations in any endeavor.
This may seem like a big topic for a leadership blog – and that’s because it is – but the truth is, people are bound to get on your bad side every once in a while. Even the people you love the most are bound to annoy you or “wrong you” (perceived) every once in a while. In a professional and personal setting, it’s important to recognize the difference between malicious intent and missteps. Regardless, forgiveness is paramount for effective leadership, and it shows your team that you have your eyes on the end goal. A virtuous leader does not allow themselves to get caught up in petty drama. A true leader forges ahead and gets their pack to the finish line.
Remember, forgiveness isn’t about blind ignorance, i.e. allowing yourself to be hurt over and over. Rather, it’s about loosening the grip you have around some employees and allowing yourself to breathe deeply again. We forgive because that is the narrative of the universe. We are blessed to be breathing air, and every second is a new chance for a new revelation of joy and compassion.
A Kind Leader
This brings me to my final point: compassion is joyful in leadership. When you are kind, you are simply awakening to the reality of the things around you. A kind and compassionate leader breaks new ground, inspires, educates, and edifies the people around them, and helps people awaken to their true purpose in life.
With that said, go out into the world and transform your personal and professional settings with joy and compassion unspeakable. The funny thing is, when you start focusing on other people and how you can transform their lives, your life starts to transform and become even better. This is the law of Karma.
Self-giving love is the currency of the universe — so give it a try!