Compassion is defined in Webster’s dictionary as “sympathetic consciousness of other’s distress together with a desire to alleviate it”. What does compassion have to do with leadership? Leadership without compassion is nothing but a formula that might work in an organizational chart but will fail to create a desire to follow nor the desire to give the effort needed to make an impact.
It seems that we often neglect this part of leadership. If those you are attempting to lead do not sense compassion in you there will be little loyalty. Ask yourself if you have ever felt great loyalty to a person who seemed to be lacking compassion? This is especially true in churches and it is also true in any organization no matter their stated mission.
Some questions to ask in the area of Compassion …
-Does the language we use communicate about our organization indicate that we care for those we are trying to reach? Language is a powerful thing and the words or phrases you use in describing what your organization is about matters a great deal. If you are not communicating that you care about the people, or their perceived needs, you will fade away. Ask some people outside of your organization what they sense when they read, or hear, key words or phrases you use to promote your organization. Listen to what they tell you and take note of some words that may need to be changed. Then seek to change the word, or words to better reflect that you care.
-Ask internally if you are really seeking results that will make a difference in people’s lives? The flip side of that is, are we just seeking to build our organization? If you answer yes to the first and no to the second great! But if an honest evaluation indicates no to the first and yes to the second, you are in a crisis and you need to make some changes quickly.
-Ask if your intended desires, to help others, are truly being communicated? Then ask if your actions, and those of your organization, are reflecting your stated desires? Our actions tell the truth about what we intend.
-How well do you know the people you are seeking to lead? To show compassion you must know the people in your organization. How well do you know the people you are seeking to reach through your organization? You must know the people in order to create ministries, or products, that will truly have an impact on them. I am often in awe (in a bad way) when I hear people in leadership who do not know, or know very little, of those they are seeking to lead or influence. Get to know the people and their needs.
It is true that you can have great compassion and not make a real impact. Especially if your leadership lacks clarity, courage or commitment. However, it is a fact, that without compassion you will have little lasting impact.
Here’s hoping that you are saying and showing compassion for those around you. Those in, and those out, of your organization need to know that you care. Here’s hoping that you are known as a compassionate leader. Here’s hoping that your leadership and your organization makes an impact that is felt.
Next week I will write a couple more follow-ups to this idea of Leadership Impact.