Being a Compassionate Leader in Challenging Times
We are at an unprecedented and very unpredictable time of global change in history. In such times as these there is an incredible opportunity for each and every one of us to rise to new levels of leadership in work and life. Leadership is one of the subjects I am most passionate about in my speaking and presenting. It is important that we show compassion as leaders and consider how we may practice compassionate leadership. This is important in good times but even more so in time of crisis as we work towards our recovery and the “new” normal in our workplaces, communities and lives. I wanted to share with you some insights and advice on the theme of compassion and how this will serve you in moving forward in your leadership and life.
Compassion means showing concern for others and what they are going through. Compassionate leadership is about learning to lead from both the head and heart. Leading from the heart asks you to go deeper and helps you become the most authentic version of a leader you can be and inspires lasting loyalty in the relationships you can foster with those you lead and serve in your work and life. It makes you more inspiring in your leadership roles – both formal and informal – and will create a greater feeling of connectedness within the groups, organizations and communities to which you belong. Connection comes through relationship building and learning how you communicate as well as how you can best communicate with others. Everyone has their own personal style of communication and preference for this connection and learning about your style and how to best connect with other “styles” will serve you well in both your personal and professional relationships.
Mindfulness is important to being a compassionate leader. Sometimes we have to slow things down to speed things up. Being mindful comes from being present in the moment, by allowing others the space to express themselves and being able to actively listen respectfully and learn from what others have to say. This may in turn require an element of patience. Great leaders don’t just lead by reacting to situations as they arise. They take moments to pause and reflect, look and respond to what they see and adjust their leadership strategy to those they work with. Important as these principles are, I also strongly believe in the importance of finding ways of getting yourself grounded. One tool I personally use to help me with getting grounded, which also contributes to mindfulness, is meditation. Meditation is a practice that serves and supports leaders in so many ways, in addition to being mindful.
Compassionate leadership does not just apply to the workplace or professional roles. There are opportunities now for us to be role models and influencers of compassionate leadership wherever we are in our homes and communities. So, look around you and think about who you know and what you can do to show compassion in all spheres.
Something that may be overlooked and under discussed is that compassion in leadership does not only mean being compassionate to others; it also means being compassionate to and with ourselves. We have faced some incredible and perceptively insurmountable challenges in the last few months. Those have come with some unimaginably difficult decisions and courses of action that had to been made for the future good. Not only that, adjusting to the “new” normal has been and will continue to be challenging on many levels – physically, mentally and emotionally. Are you caring about and are you being compassionate to yourself? Have patience and compassion for yourself as you take the necessary steps and make the adjustments you need to find security and stability for yourself and move you forward in your recovery towards the “new” normal we are all working towards. If you cannot have compassion for yourself then how will you be able to continue contribute as the leader you need to be today and become the leader you wish to be in the future?
Compassion is such an important leadership quality to practice and master in our relationships both with ourselves and with others in our personal and professional communities. The question is, when this global crisis is over, and you look back at this time in history, how will you be remembered? Will you look back and be proud? Did you do something to contribute? How did you show up and inspire others and yourself? This is the time where even the smallest act of kindness and compassion can lead to a greater legacy than you can possibly imagine.