We all want to be enthusiastic and positive leaders, ones who inspire our team members to contribute and excel. We want to foster teams that thrive and that seem to generate their own abundant energy. We want to be leaders who connect with our team members, identify their strengths and weaknesses and help them work with both. How do we foster that ability to connect? Here are four steps to help you lead with compassion.
Embrace self-awareness and self-compassion
Success as a leader starts with you – how you treat and understand yourself. Your step, therefore, is to accept your own feelings and reactions. Be compassionate with yourself as you assess your own responses and your perceived strengths and weaknesses. How much do you expect of yourself? How do you respond to yourself when something goes wrong, or when a deadline is looming, and you need to push yourself through an 80-hour week to achieve it? Be kind to yourself. Practise discipline by all means, but also know when to take your foot off the gas, and even give yourself some acknowledgement and rewards.
Develop a gratitude practice
Never underestimate the power of gratitude. It has genuine, measurable positive effects on your mental health. Too many people – leaders among them – focus on problems, faults, shortfalls and crises. Their approach to daily tasks and to leadership will reflect this focus. A negative focus will not foster a compassionate and success-driven approach. Choose to cultivate gratitude instead, and let this drive your approach both to the daily routine and unforeseen crises. This will require you to take a step back from your busy schedule for just a few minutes each day. Just take a moment to pause and reflect on what makes you feel grateful. This helps clear your mind of distractions, allowing you to focus more clearly on the present and uncover hidden opportunities. Once you have mastered this approach, you can easily share it with your team members – it is amazing how contagious feelings of gratitude and contentment can be.
Practice and hone emotional intelligence
Business is never just business. While it is important to behave professionally, doing so does not require repressing your emotions for the duration of the working day. On the contrary, you and your team should be encouraged to bring your emotions to the workplace and express them in an adult manner, while also honing your ability to listen to, and understand the emotions of others. Encourage open-mindedness and the willingness to share.
Embrace curiosity, open-mindedness and innovation
Being a leader does not mean that you must come up with all the ideas, nor does it mean that everyone needs to think as you do. On the contrary, diversity of thought is crucial to the success of any enterprise. You must always be curious about new ways to approach your work. You should always ask your team members to contribute their thoughts on the subject and show a willingness to adopt their ideas if they prove tenable and constructive. Encourage everyone to share this approach, sharing ideas openly and actively seeking and discussing ways to innovate, to reach goals more efficiently, and produce better outcomes. This fosters an environment of collaboration in which each team member feels that they have a part to play, and that their contributions are appreciated. It also lays a strong foundation for growth and innovation, helping your business move forward into an uncertain and fast-moving future.
Corporate Class Inc. is a global authority in leadership coaching and empowerment. We strive to develop exceptional leaders and to assist organizations in developing effective leadership approaches. Based in Toronto, and with a worldwide presence, we have helped to nurture mindful leaders since 1984. Contact us for more information on how to develop mindful leadership and lead with compassion.