How to Be Both an Effective Leader and a Good Person - Deepstash
How to Be Both an Effective Leader and a Good Person

How to Be Both an Effective Leader and a Good Person

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The Eternal Conundrum: Am I A Leader Or A Good Person?

As a leader, how do you do the hard things that come with taking on the responsibility of leadership, while remaining a good human being? This is an eternal conundrum for all leaders. Most of us think we have to make a difficult, binary choice between being a good person or being a tough, effective leader. This is a false dichotomy. Being human and making hard leadership decisions are not mutually exclusive. In truth, doing hard things is often the most human thing to do. There are two key ingredients: wisdom and compassion.


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The Concept Of Wise Compassionate Leadership

A Harvard Business Review article, introduces the concept of wise compassionate leadership , with wisdom defined as a deep understanding of what motivates people and the courage to be transparent and to do what needs to be done, even when it is uncomfortable; and compassion as the quality of showing genuine care and concern for others, with a positive intention to support and help.


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The Parts Are Great Alone.

HBR’s study of leaders and employees from more than 5,000 companies in nearly 100 countries has shown the extraordinary power of wisdom and compassion. Employees with leaders who show either wisdom or compassion have net positive experiences across the board. They enjoy and are engaged with their jobs and are less likely to burn out.


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But Their Sum Is Much Greater Than Them.

But, when a leader demonstrates both wisdom and compassion, the impact on employee wellness and productivity is striking. Job satisfaction is 86% higher for an employee who works for a wise and compassionate leader than an employee who does not. In this case, the sum is much greater than the parts.


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The First Step To Leading With Wisdom And Compassion

Not surprisingly, however, actually leading with this combination of wisdom and compassion isn’t easy. It takes learning and practice. The first big step is to unlearn what you might think “leadership” means and to relearn what it means to be human.

Very simply put, management is about managing others, about exercising executive control over people. Leadership, on the other hand, is about seeing and hearing others, setting a direction, and then letting go of controlling what happens next.


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Welcome, Foster, Then Set Free

“If you start to think about what our role is as leaders, it’s actually quite simple,” Chris Toth, CEO of the medical device company Varian, told HBR. “Our role is not to be the ones who make the decision or to be the smartest person in the room. In fact, it can be exceptionally dangerous if the decision-making always goes to the leader. Instead, you must create a culture of compassion and empowerment that is accepting of diverse perspectives. This unlocks people’s creativity, productivity and happiness.”


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4 Ways To Bring More Humanity To Your Leadership

To foster this type of leadership approach, it is critical for leaders to acknowledge that we are not our job titles: we are human beings, wanting to connect on a human level with other people. Here are four ways to bring more humanity to your leadership.


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1. Remember the Golden Rule

Compassion, at its root, is a desire to see others happy and a readiness to take action to help it happen. This is basically an expression of the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. The Golden Rule is a helpful step for putting wise compassion in action since it requires the consideration of another person’s point of view.


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… But First Make Sure You Don’t Misunderstand It

When we are able to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes, we can take a fresh look at a challenging situation. We can take a moment to recognize that we have one view of the situation, but things may, and probably do, look very different from another person’s perspective. Although putting yourself in another person’s shoes is good for reflection, it is important to avoid thinking you know what the other person is feeling or experiencing. We need to balance putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes with not assuming we understand their reality, which requires good listening.


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2. Listen intently.

We have two ears but only one mouth. This means we can—and should—listen twice as much as we speak. When you truly listen to others , they feel heard and seen, which satisfies one of our primary needs as humans.


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… And Set Up Both The Environment And Yourself To Do So

If you have an important conversation coming up, take extra time to prepare. This can mean establishing the right kind of environment so that you can be fully present or setting an intention to really hear and feel what the other person wants and feels versus focusing on fixing a problem.


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3. Ask yourself “How can I be of benefit?”

A Chinese proverb says, “There is no way to compassion; compassion is the way.” Asking how you can be of benefit to others, though, is a “way to compassion.” Whenever you are about to engage with someone, take a moment to reflect on what might be going on for this person. What is challenging or going well? And then ask yourself: what support might they need to overcome their struggles? What nudge might they need to gain more self-awareness about their blind spots that are creating difficulties? These questions will help to create a more human interaction focused on their growth and development


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4. Stretch people to see their potential

A good leader values who we are today but also challenges us to stretch ourselves and do better to realize more of our true potential. This is not easy. When someone is already doing well, pushing them to do better can be discouraging and demotivating. But leadership is not about trying to please people and make them feel content and at ease. Leadership is about supporting people by shining a light on things they may not want to face. Instead of shying away from these uncomfortable conversations, try to view your role to stretch people as an indication of true care for them.


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Do The Hard Work Of Leadership In A Human Way

When we practice wise compassion, we can create a culture in which others increase their focus on real human connections. As leaders, we should never underestimate the impact we have on people. We have the power to control their livelihood. We have power over the work they do. And we have power over how they feel treated. This is a huge responsibility. This makes it of the utmost importance to do the hard work of leadership in a human way, so that we can be more successful in positively impacting people’s work experience, their sense of commitment, and their job performance.


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“An idea is something that won’t work unless you do.” - Thomas A. Edison


Leaders always have, looming over their heads, about to crash down upon them, the words “hard”, “tough”, sometimes even “inhuman”. But, doing hard things, is often the most human thing to do.

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