Commanding, strong, action oriented, committed and confident; these are all leadership competencies that all leaders or managers in an organization must comprise of, however, this is just one parallel of competencies for leadership. Most managers think that being hardcore without a touch of softness to their attitude is the key to good leadership. But on quite the contrary, managers who sympathize and empathize with their direct reports and co-workers when empathy and sympathy are due are considered competent leaders.
No matter how much we try to separate our work lives and personal lives, they often creep up at each other; we are only human after all! A little compassion and a lot less brutality with your co-workers and direct reports will not only help them in a difficult situation, but also may result in them putting in genuine effort to do what is expected of them at work and not retaliate at work due to emotional stress. Your genuine effort to help them with a little empathy or sympathy will show you care and prove the measure of your leadership competencies. Being hard headed and strong without a single ounce of compassion will make you seem cold and uninterested, which will impact your relationship with them.
Measure of Your Leadership Competencies
As human emotions go, our brains are still mysterious. Most people want to help but find it awkward to make that approach that is so necessary. Understanding their situation will help you develop a sense of compassion that will help you handle the situation more efficiently. Look at their situation and hypothetically mirror it to yourself and this will help you get a better grasp of the situation. You can then advice them with a fresh perspective. A competent leader always stands up for those looking for help in a diplomatic and modest way.
Lend an ear, if not hand
In most situations, people are not looking for help or advice but just a person to vent out to. Understand that everyone functions differently and your opinions may clash but that does not mean that the best remedy to somebody’s issues is to tell them what they are doing wrong. Pointing out their mistakes may make it seem like you are pushing them deeper into the ground. Be diplomatic. Just listen to them and empathize with them and ask them if you could do anything to help them.
Don’t get shrink-y with them
If you are the kind of person who doesn’t know what to say to people when they are emotionally down and in serious need for help, then you are most likely to find compassion inappropriate and an awkward position to be in. There is an ocean of difference between showing compassion to a person in need and counseling somebody, for one, counseling is not a leadership competency.
- When people come to you to vent out, the last thing they want is judgment. Let them speak their heart out to you and don’t offer up any advice unless asked for it, instead empathize with them.
- Sum up what they have said to you for them. This will make it seem like you have understood the situation. Spending too much time on it will take a very quick turn into seeming like counseling.
- Most organizations have people, probably in the HR department, who are in charge of lending an open ear and help people within the organization through difficult times. If this said person in trouble seems to need help, refer them to the department that is incharge of carrying out these duties.
Learn the art
Compassion is a human quality spread wide across the world. Find people who have mastered compassion and learn a thing or two from them! Leadership competencies develop with every skill you learn and being compassionate when compassion is due is a skill that will help you seem the part as a competent leader. Find people at work, outside of work or any notable public figure who are known for their compassion and try to deduce the important and implementable ways in which they deal with people and show their compassion towards them.
Reflect on yourself
Leadership competencies are useless if you are biased with your behavior based on individuals or groups. Reflect on your behavior and understand where and with whom you lack compassion. If it is a stereotype that you have constructed in your mind, clarify and understand where you stand.
- We often categorize people as “me” and “everybody else”. This creates an illusion of you being right and everybody else being wrong. Create an unbiased judgment in your mind to accept people as they are and their actions as right or wrong. This will help you make better judgments about people without relying on biased stereotypes.
- Leadership competency skills demand you to keep an open ear for almost all situations. Listening to people and their point of views will help you be a better leader but in this situation, it will help you be compassionate towards views that you may not agree with. Listen to what they have to say, their reasons behind doing what they do or saying what they say. You may not agree with their views and that is your right, however, figuring their side of the story and not acting upon your own opinions is the real test to your leadership competencies.
Manage a Conflict
Some people have their hearts in their mouths and think that issues are resolved best when spoken about. But more than often, situations may cause heated conversations and hence, leading to conflict. Conflict resolution is a leadership competency skill that is hard to develop because situations often seem to go out of hand. At this point, the best thing to do to handle heated accusations jumped at you is to acknowledge that you have heard them out and make sure not to add on to the argument from your end.
Sometimes, the case might not be about you but instead, your organization at large. They may feel the presence of inadequate amount of compassion towards sensitive topics such as religion, race or gender. In such situations, conflicts maybe too emotional and sensitive and hence, must be dealt with utmost use of your leadership competencies. Understand and hear out what they have to say, but neither agree or disagree with them. Diplomatically put out more questions and make fewer statements.
Being compassionate towards your direct reports will not only make you seem trustworthy but it will also draw in loyalty. Great leaders try engage with their direct reports with a level of compassion because they understand that the happiness of their direct reports directly impacts the work they turn in. Creativity, innovation, timeliness and great work is what you can expect in return for a little bit of your compassion towards your subordinates.