Have you ever thought of yourself as a “leader”?
Many people conflate management with leadership; the way I describe it is like this: leaders care about people, managers care about process; a leader will buy you a coffee, a manager will ask for the receipt. People can be both – and very good at it – but not all are. If you’ve ever had a ‘manager’ who got the job done but just didn’t care if it broke you, you’ll know exactly what I mean.
It’s one reason why myself and others, promote mindful leadership; the main ingredient, alongside being present, is showing compassion – for ourself and others.
In his book, Compassionate Leadership, Michael A. West defines it like this:
1) Paying attention to the other, being present and noticing their suffering – attending
2) Listening to another person and what is causing the other’s distress – understanding
3) Relating to the other person’s distress without being overwhelmed by it – empathising
4) Taking intelligent action to alleviate that person’s suffering – helping
Note the use of the term “intelligent action” – this would include making sure that you don’t give so much of yourself that you burn out in your efforts to help others.
Here’s some food for thought:
This week, set the intention to Dare to Lead. Taken from the book of the same name by Brené Brown this concept provides an opportunity to show the world your caring leadership side – in any moment. This doesn’t have to be a work thing, it could be in any situation where the moment calls for courage and compassion.
If the idea of showing courage makes you stiffen a little, Brené Brown explains in the video below courage is a skill not a personality trait; it can be learned and it’s contagious. We can teach it and measure it BUT at the same time we have to create cultures where being “armoured up” (e.g. defensive) all the time is not rewarded.
Brown also makes the point that vulnerability is not about disclosure – we probably all know someone in a position of power who shares their story in a way that implies no one else could have had it so bad. But vulnerability is more about whether you can manage risk and stay in the hard conversations like being ready to give – and receive – feedback. Take it in, take it on.
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