Compassion is a big topic and super easy to overlook because most of us spend our lives being hard on ourselves. How many of you find that you berate yourself throughout the day with an internal monologue that sounds something like this:
‘Wow that was stupid’ ‘Oh my god you are so lazy’ ‘No one really likes you’ ‘What did you say that for’ ‘why did you do that’ etc
This is our internal critical voice and the opposite of compassion.
When we are compassionate to ourselves we are curious about what caused our behaviour, we accept responsibility, we are open to feedback and most importantly we give ourselves some space to feel the emotions that cause us to act out.
Here are 5 ways compassion helps us as leaders:
1) We overcome perfectionism and cultivate empathy
We all mistakes and we are always going to, that’s part of being human. When we practice compassion we can be kinder to ourselves in tough times and therefore that helps create empathy for others when they do something ‘wrong’. The people we are the harshest on are the people that demonstrate behaviour we do not accept in ourself.
2) We become more inclusive leaders
Where we are not only accepting of difference, we welcome it. We know that diversity is the key to expand our knowledge, perspectives, tolerance and we are eager to learn from the experiences of others, whilst holding them equally as important as our own – Even that really difficult client you work with!
3) We learn to respond instead of react
Reacting is when the limbic (reptilian) part of our brain kicks in and takes over, this happens when we are under stress. When we respond we have the ability when stressed or triggered to take a moment and actually make a choice about how we want to act. This stops us regretting later things we have done or said, and hurting people unnecessarily.
4) We see the bigger picture and have wider perspective
It very important to be able to see the wood from the trees as a leaders and not get caught up in the minutia. Having compassion helps us to see cause and not just symptoms, and then we can react to what is actually happening rather than what on the surface may seem to be happening. In the long run this saves an incredible amount of time, as well as makes our staff feel valued and understood.
5) We become significantly better listeners
When we're compassionate we are more interested in hearing others and learning than we are about being heard. We are comfortable in who we are, we don’t seek external validation from others. As a leader being able to listen creates huge amounts of trust and it is a key trait of high performing teams.
Why is this important in our leadership? Because when we can apply these qualities not only to ourselves but to our teams we create teams that feel valued, acknowledged and empowered. If you're interested in finding out more about how to cultivate compassion in your leadership you can reach out to us via email, or take a look at more resources by Lauren at The Compassion Coach website.
If you've found this blog post helpful you might also enjoy: Perspectives on Wellbeing