Compassion: A Leadership Advantage

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5min

Developing compassion is a key trait of great leaders.  It’s not about being soft. It’s about making sure the people you are leading know you genuinely care about them.  It’s about breaking down barriers, and being vulnerable.

Your ability to influence is directly related to your willingness to be vulnerable.

It’s so cliché and it’s so true. People don’t care what you know until they know how much you care.

“Now, ‘compassion’ is not a word often bandied about in locker rooms. But I’ve found that a few kind, thoughtful words can have a strong transformative effect on relationships, even with the toughest men in the room.” – Phil Jackson

Compassion breaks down barriers among people. You have to develop the ability to feel what they feel.  When we feel what someone else feels we have a much better understanding of what they need. And, a much clearer understanding of how we can help them and serve them.

Awareness gives us the ability to have compassion, empathy, and serve others. It gives us the ability to walk in their shoes. When someone is being rude or disrespectful to you, you have no idea what happened to him or her that day.  It increases empathy.

They might not be as lucky as you to have had the support system or access to education that you did, which enables you to stay calm in those situations. To respond in a healthy manner and not react.

Taking the subway, traveling in an airplane or riding the bus can be beautiful because it puts you in an oddly intimate setting with people from all different walks of life. Basketball is similar. My brother played AAU with the Running Rebels, an inner-city Milwaukee-based program and it forced everyone in my family into what was then an uncomfortable situation.  Uncomfortable, not because of the actual situation. Uncomfortable because of the perception of the situation. Growing up in a small town in central Wisconsin, the only thing you know about the inner-city and black community is through rap music, MTV, the news, and basketball.  As naive as that may sound, it’s the truth. It’s the perception. On top of that, Milwaukee is extremely segregated compared to other metropolitan areas in the country.  So you have these people from small-town central Wisconsin, developing relationships, being teammates, and allowing their son to be coached by people who have completely different stories and experiences.

If we don’t develop compassion, we miss out on so many opportunities — opportunities to serve, to grow, to learn, and to see the good in all of these experiences.

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