If compassion is the first step, how do you develop it? If you’re a driver, what I’m about to advise might be outside of your comfort zone. But it’s worth the investment of time and energy because of the enormous long-term return. Before people will cooperate with their leader, they are looking for these questions to be answered: Do you care for me? Can you help me? Can I trust you?
1. Do you care for me?
An organization is composed of individual human beings with needs, hopes and desires. To answer this question correctly, a leader must value people more than projects. Choose to see them as humans rather than resources. This involves getting to know your team members, learning as much as you can about them and seeking to understand what motivates them.
Express the value they bring. Ask how their kids are. Be interested in their answers. Tell them why you believe in them. When you make it your goal to value people for who they are—not for what they can do for you—that will show in your actions.
2. Can you help me?
This might seem counterintuitive. After all, you need your followers to help you in order to achieve the mission of the team. Quite simply, people won’t cooperate for long in a one-way relationship. Help them to help yourself.
After valuing your team members, your next task is to figure out how you can add value to them. What does each person need or want that you have the capacity to provide? How can you make a positive difference in his or her life today? When you unselfishly give to someone, you receive their loyalty and support in return.
3. Can I trust you?
Compassion is recognized by followers when the leader is consistent in showing it. This question is answered through the actions you take on a regular basis. It takes time to build trust—time spent keeping your promises, matching your actions to your words, and consistently valuing and adding value to your team.
Growing and maintaining trust takes intentionality and commitment. And although building trust takes time, it can be torn down in an instant. To continue answering yes to this question, consistency is key.
Results are important for a leader. It’s natural to look at the faraway destination and believe the journey toward it is a straight line. The best path to results begins with compassion, leading to cooperation and fostering strong working relationships, after which you arrive at the best results.