The Compassionate Leader

On Valentines Day all leaders have a chance to show they do have a soft centre after all. This article explores how leaders can move from thinking to feeling for at least one day a year.

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Andrew Tallents


Self-Coaching for Leaders Newsletter

10 months ago | 6 min read

A story about a leader and a dog

Once upon a time, there was a leader named John, who prided himself on being logical and level-headed. Whenever a team member would come to him in tears, he would calmly ask them why they were crying and then offer practical solutions to their problems and expect them to quickly move on.

One day, on his way home from work, John saw a dog lying on the side of the road, whimpering in pain. He approached the dog, but it was clear that it was too late to save it. All John could do was sit there with the dog, petting it gently and offering comfort as it took its final breaths.

As John walked home, he couldn't shake the memory of the dog's suffering and the sense of helplessness he felt in the face of it. He realized that, just like the dog, sometimes people don't need a solution to their problems, but just someone to be there with them in their pain.

The next day at work, a team member came to John in tears. Instead of offering solutions, John simply sat with her and listened as she shared her feelings. The team member was surprised by John's sudden show of empathy and felt truly heard and understood for the first time. From then on, John made a point of being present for his team members in their moments of vulnerability, offering a listening ear and a supportive presence.

In the end, John realised that being a true leader isn't just about making the smartest decisions or being the most efficient, but about showing compassion and self-leadership by being there for others when they need it most.

Historic Compassionate Leaders

Throughout history, great leaders have demonstrated their love and affection for their followers in various ways. From powerful speeches to acts of kindness, these leaders have shown that love is a vital component of effective leadership.

One of the most iconic examples of a leader's love for their followers is Martin Luther King Jr. King was a powerful orator, and his speeches were filled with love and compassion for his fellow human beings. His famous "I Have a Dream" speech, delivered during the March on Washington in 1963, is a prime example of this. In his speech, King called for an end to racial injustice and discrimination, but he did so with love and understanding, emphasizing the need for unity and togetherness.

Another great leader who demonstrated his love for his followers was Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi was a spiritual leader and political activist who led India to independence from British rule. His approach to leadership was based on the principle of nonviolent resistance, which he called Satyagraha. Gandhi's ability to show love and compassion for his followers, even in the face of great adversity, was a key factor in his success as a leader.

Nelson Mandela is another example of a leader who showed his love for his followers. Mandela spent 27 years in prison for his anti-apartheid activism in South Africa, but when he was released, he showed no bitterness or anger towards his oppressors. Instead, he preached forgiveness and reconciliation, emphasizing the need for unity and understanding.

Raising Awareness of the Power of Love

Valentine's Day is a day to celebrate love and affection, and this applies not just to personal relationships but also to professional ones. For leaders who have built their success on rational thinking and data-driven decision-making, it may be challenging to shift focus to the emotional side of leadership. However, taking time to stop and show love and appreciation for those around you can have long-term benefits for your organisation's performance.

Leaders who show their love and appreciation for their stakeholders, including employees, customers, and suppliers, can build stronger relationships and foster a more positive work culture. By taking the time to connect with others on a personal level, leaders can create a sense of loyalty and trust that can lead to improved collaboration, productivity, and overall performance.

One way to demonstrate love and appreciation on Valentine's Day is by recognizing and rewarding the hard work and achievements of your team members. You can do this through a thoughtful note, a small gift, or by simply taking the time to express your gratitude and appreciation for their efforts.

Another way to show love and appreciation is to actively listen to your stakeholders' feedback and concerns. By demonstrating empathy and understanding, leaders can build trust and create an environment where everyone feels valued and heard. Leaders who listen and respond to their stakeholders' needs can make better decisions that are more aligned with their values and goals, ultimately improving performance.

It's important to note that showing love and appreciation shouldn't just be a one-day event; it should be a consistent practice throughout the year. By making a habit of showing love and appreciation, leaders can create a positive work culture where everyone feels valued and supported. This, in turn, can lead to improved employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and overall business performance.

Love is tough to talk about for many leaders

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Andrew Tallents


Self-Coaching for Leaders Newsletter







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