Authentic Leadership

A simple question can reveal so much about a person’s mood.

That simple expression of interest permits both parties to consider each other interests. Often the question can be asked informally, allowing the person to reply with a neutral “All good here, thanks’ or “Glad you asked…”, which enables the person asked to supply a more comprehensive response. But often, it’s a casual formality to acknowledge the other person’s proximity.

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But what happens to a question when the adverb ‘how’ is replaced with the two nouns ‘what’ and ‘often’. The question now takes on a much more curious tone.  

“What are you feeling today?” 

Even the most articulate will flounder as they reach for the right words to describe their feelings. A compassionate leader often leads with this type of questioning. Leaders who show compassion will inevitably grow a more robust team prepared to work for one another.  

Compassion motivates people to go out of their way to relieve their physical, mental, or emotional pains and themselves. An overlooked attribute is one of the priority soft skills leaders must show post-2025. Compassion involves “feelings for another” and is a precursor to empathy. This second soft skill confirms how the leader shares the same emotion. Empathy should not be confused with sympathy, which is the feeling toward another person. 

Compassionate Leaders lead with active compassion. This behaviour is the desire to ease the other’s persons problem. Once mastered, this mindset allows the leader to be seen as the person who makes a positive difference in someone’s life. 

Studies show that in a business-as-usual environment, compassionate leaders perform better and foster more loyalty and engagement by their teams. However, compassion becomes especially critical during a crisis. In the months to come, we are heading into choppier economic waters where compassionate leadership will have to be seen. 

In times of crisis, leaders may develop tunnel vision, which shows a lack of delegation. This behaviour occurs when the first problem hasn’t been scrutinised sufficiently to find the right situation. If the team is not aware of the various scenarios to resolve the issue, resolutions will take longer to execute. Likewise, an inexperienced leader can develop tunnel vision and feel unable to delegate and want to take control back.  

It is the inspirational leader who delegates tasks across the team in a time of high focus whilst tuning into their fears and anxieties. In so doing, this leader helps employees by adjusting to their employee’s fears and anxieties. By levelling this emotional playing field, the leader can help the employees grapple with their own emotions and share the responsibility of delivering the right project outcome. This develops into a ‘we are in this together approach. 

Some of the best leaders allow themselves time for introspection. A period of the first introspection at the start of the project has the effect of aligning the stars. Secondly, a considered approach to connecting and dealing with people’s immediate needs and agreeing on the stage of business recovery ensures everyone has a personal stake in the outcome. 

Without a controlled approach to business, collective panic can prompt a “flight and affiliation” response in which people seek familiar places and contacts. Old habits do take a long time to die, although a compassionate leader can harness the power of a team and discover a newer, higher level of team performance, even in times of crisis. 

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