This is Leadership: Compassion in empathy

This is Leadership: Leader reflections

…once you may need the services of someone else in future, manage your actions, inactions and reactions well

When Jonathan Haidt of the New York University expressed that followers’ look up to their
leaders and are inspired by their kindness because they are compassionate, other leadership authorities, writers and teachers delved into his thinking from various dimensions. He was only expressing empathy from other viewpoints. One of the simplest ways to express empathy is to show compassion.

Leaders must learn to uplift the spirits of followers. Showing compassion elevates followers emotionally. When leaders elevate employees they tend to increase their commitment and loyalty levels. If you fail to elevate your followers as a leader, and you may have to come back the next time to rely on them, imagine their commitment levels? Adam Grant, the author of Give and Take -an interestingly provoking piece- and a professor of the Wharton Business School touched on the law of reciprocity.

He hinted that once you may need the services of someone else in future, manage your actions, inactions and reactions well if you may have to eat your humble pie. An environment full of fear, disloyalty, anxiety and the lack of trust will always shut people down. Neuroscientists also confirm that when people work in fear and are anxious within a group their threat response is engaged and they often make mistakes.

As a leader, when your team members often make mistakes, check their anxiety levels. Mistakes per se are not negative to team growth. Ahenkorah (2018) hinted that mistakes increase experience and experience must decrease mistakes. This is one of the many reasons why leaders must learn to be compassionate when showing empathy. Being compassionate is not a sign of weakness.  When leaders express negative energies and negative emotions employees see them as less effective.

Leaders must use empathy to understand that each employee is unique. Empathy is one of the skills required in leadership. It is not a standalone attribute though. Leadership is an art and partly science. Empathy is just a small particle in the emotional intelligence discussion, yet a pillar for a great leader.

When you show compassion to your team, the team learn to build one heart that beats in one direction to support each other in the bigger scheme of things. Compassion also establishes the fact that all are fallible and leaders must develop their human to human skills. Showing compassion has a process. First, take a moment to understand the situation end to end. It involves breaking down issues into simpler forms.

If you take a step back to understand the situation at stake so to know your emotions at play, you’ll realize that there are always situations within situations. It’s about learning to meditate. Collin Powell calls it reflection as part of leader after event reviews– AERs. Second, put yourself in employees’ shoes without compromising on policies and quality. Show empathy and be firm.

Lastly, learn to forgive. Forgiveness promotes good relationship between leaders and followers. You’ll need to explain the lessons within issues with teams and therefore learn to forgive yet don’t forget. Becoming compassionate comes with an uneasy balance. It’s always about understanding emotions and empathizing with your followers. It’s not weakness. It’s strength.

This is leadership!

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