Take a moment to think about one person in your life who has influenced you for the better. What is one thing they taught you? What are some words you think of when you think of that person? It may be who they are to you: Mom, dad, teacher, friend, sibling, boss, pastor, mentor. It may be their personality traits: Kind, helpful, giving, warm, generous, strong, honorable. The common trait you will ALWAYS find in these people, is that they are compassionate.
One Key Quality That Will Elevate Your Leadership: Compassion.
You are a human being first.
Being compassionate always meets the personal need before the business need. Imagine your child falling and getting hurt right after you asked them to complete a task. Would your first reaction be to scold them, or to repeat just how important completing this task was? Of course not! You would check on them; you would make sure they were okay.
For anyone you lead, when you take the time to address them as a person first, you are showing them that they mean more to you than their “responsibility.” They are a human being not a human doing.
You are present.
We are living in a millennial world, and I am a millennial girl. People are severely disconnected from others with the huge focus on social media, phones, email, etc. Sometimes, the most compassionate thing you can do for someone is to show them they are important by putting down the distractions.
It bothers me when I am trying to have a conversation with someone and they are scrolling through their phone while I speak. How fair is it to place the person in front of you at the same level of importance as an old acquaintance’s most recent status update?
I found myself doing this with my daughter in the morning during breakfast. To me, it was just another conversation about the characters on the back of the cereal box…what was wrong with scrolling through my phone? To her, it was 15 minutes with me before she left to school for 8 hours. My “mhmm’s” and “uh-huh’s” told her I wasn’t paying attention. When I put down the phone and responded by engaging with my imagination too, her face LIT UP.
Being present makes all the difference in that persons perception of you.
You are mindful of others.
When you are a mindful leader, you are aware of the the difficulties and challenges that those you lead are facing. The only way to know this is through frequent check-ins and observations. Once you are aware of these issues, your employees, volunteers, or kids, will be able to truly connect with you.
Being mindful of others doesn’t always come easy. It’s often difficult to be aware of when someone is having an off day or dealing with frustrations in their duties when you don’t know what signs to look for. In order to know the signs to look for, you need to know them personally. Until you know them personally, don’t be afraid to ask! A simple inquiry can show them that you care and that you are paying attention.
3 Practical Ways you can lead with compassion now:
1. Ask 3 personal questions before you ask what you really need. Before skipping straight to business, try asking how their weekend was first. What did they do? How are their kids/family? Keep doing this, and it will eventually come natural to you.
2. Remember details and follow up. When they express an important detail about their life, follow up on it. i.e. “Hey, how did your sons baseball game go?” “I remember your aunt wasn’t feeling well last week, is she doing better now?” “Did you ever cook that meal you were talking about trying the other day?” In the beginning, this may be hard. I honestly used to take notes in my phone to remember and set reminders to follow up.
3. Compliment them in front of others. When you show gratitude or compliment someone, it goes a long way. A great way to build equity with those you lead is to actually compliment them in front of others. Don’t do it for just anything, this can display a lack of authenticity. Look for a good idea, a goal met, or a job well done. Do it in front of your superior or even their peers. Whats appreciated is repeated.