Compassion and truth are essential to helping people and teams flourish. Leaders who know how to calibrate these traits create environments of health and growth, so how can you strengthen the ways you're applying them with the people you lead?
Absolute Truth and Absolute Compassion
Compassion involves the sense of being included, encouraged and valued, not for what you can do but for who you are. It is about knowing and feeling you belong, that others care about you and want to include you because you're important.
Truth involves the personal responsibilities that come with relationships and teamwork. It provides challenges to both character and competency that enable individuals and teams to function at their highest level.
The degree to which we engage people with these characteristics can shape how they respond to the work before them. A leader who offers people a lot of compassion but little truth will create a cozy, relational environment that probably isn’t maximizing the potential of the people or the effectiveness of the team. On the other hand, a leader who is constantly challenging with truth but offers little compassion will eventually lead to discouraged people and teams.
What we want to find is the right combination of compassion and truth, one that will empower people. The chart below illustrates the interplay of compassion and truth, and how it impacts people.
We all tend to lead with either more compassion or more truth. Think about the people you're leading. What is your tendency? Why? How do different situations shape how you calibrate the amount of compassion and truth you offer? How do the different personalities of the people you're directing shape how you interact with compassion and truth?
Here are two different leadership scenarios and how the calibration of compassion and truth can empower people and teams.
Developing a Team
Once a team comes together, you need everyone. Each individual has a role and everyone is important. If a leader is unable to get the personal buy-in of the team members, they won’t be very successful. Even teams with highly skilled individuals can struggle to perform effectively if they don’t learn to operate as a team.
However, without compassion from their leader, people will be reluctant to take chances or step up because it won't seem safe to do so. And without challenges to their competency, and at times their character, individuals won’t perform to their optimal level and are unlikely to garner respect for one another, so the team will underperform. Without authentic challenge, skilled teamwork can devolve into self-preservation rather than making the sacrifices needed for maximum effectiveness. People need both compassion and truth to begin to effectively work together, encourage one another, trust one another and succeed together.
Operating as a Team
Leading up to a big presentation or event, your team will need more challenging truth to maximize their effort. After a setback or time of personal weakness, they will still need truth, but also plenty of compassion. The team and each person in it will require differing amounts of both truth and compassion.
Some people respond well when a leader candidly and immediately offers challenging truth. Others need the truth sandwiched with compassionate affirmations. Knowing your people and what they need to be effective is essential to being able to lead them well.
If you would like to personally grow in your ability to lead in these ways, contact us at OneAccord to discuss this further.
About the Author
Tom Dabasinskas has spent over 28 years helping individuals and teams in the nonprofit sector reach their personal and professional potential. He has helped both small and large organizations identify their goals and take the practical steps towards achieving them. By focusing on both competencies and character, Tom helps people experience increased effectiveness and lasting fulfillment. His extensive international work also provides perspective and insight into multicultural leadership environments.
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