Leadership is about inspiring and empowering people to become who they were created to be.  It is about relating and connecting in such a way that the world is impacted and changed for good. Although there will always be opinions about the characteristics of effective leadership, there is a specific characteristic that people want from you as their leader.  

In a recent Gallup survey of 10,000 followers, words like caring, friendship, happiness, and love were used to describe what people needed and wanted from their leaders. In a word, people were looking for leaders with compassion.  They are looking for leaders, whether spiritual, political, corporate, or educational, to listen to them, to care for them, and to love them.  To lead with compassion means contributing to the happiness and well-being of the people entrusted to your care. It is more than “being nice.” It is an intentional action to nurture people to their full potential. As their leader, you develop authentic relationships for the purpose of helping people become who they were created to be. 

Effective, Compassionate Leadership Characteristics

With that in mind, you become a compassionate leader by practicing compassion. The most effective leaders are those who are: 

1. Focused on Others

They shift the focus off themselves and onto the people entrusted to their care. Compassionate leaders have a healthy self-awareness and don’t have to be the center of all attention or activities.  They understand that shifting from self to others is essential in developing leaders.

2. Developing Relationships

They have care and concern for all people and build upon that care and concern to develop relationships. They are genuinely interested in the people around them. Besides being aware of their own gifts and strengths, they know the gifts and strengths of the people they lead. Through the development of relationships, they create healthy environments of trust where everyone is supported, encouraged, and celebrated.   

3. Listening

The amount of time they listen to the people entrusted to their care is a sign of how important people are to them. They invite comments and encourage discussion. Listening helps develop an environment where people feel good about their work and contributions. When people feel good about themselves, they are more fully committed to participating and offering their best.  

4. Positive

The best way to empower and motivate others is by being a genuinely positive person. When leaders develop a positive attitude, have something positive to say, and create a positive atmosphere, then people feel comfortable, safe, and secure in communicating what needs to be communicated.

Investing their time. Time is one of the most precious and protected resources people have. Leaders know that time invested in the people around them will produce good fruit. When people feel they have a strong relationship with their leader because their leader is deeply invested in who they are, they are willing to offer their best.

5. People of Integrity

They walk their talk. They lead from within and inspire others through encouragement and empowerment. People don’t forget being treated with respect and dignity. Leaders who lead out of who they are making a greater impact on the world. They cultivate leaders by modeling the leadership needed.  

6. Grateful

There are lots of ways for leaders to show they care. They mentor, support, guide, and encourage. But when a leader expresses gratitude and recognition, people feel appreciated and are willing to offer more of themselves to impact the community and the world.

Your Turn

Leading with compassion is foundational to who you are as a leader. Although processes are important, compassionate leaders focus on people more than the processes.

Remember, compassionate leaders seek influence, not authority. They don’t demand, they encourage. Compassionate leaders demonstrate hope. As you lead, continue to acknowledge and support the people around you to combine your collective efforts, strengths, skills, insights, passion, enthusiasm, and commitment to work together for the greater good.

Our world, our communities, and our churches need compassionate leaders. Your greatest success is to grow and develop the people entrusted to your care so that they make a difference in their families, their jobs, their communities, and their churches. Now is the time to step up and lead with compassion. 

Take a moment to think of the people entrusted to your care. What is one thing you can do to better the lives of the people around you? How will you show compassion this week? 

If you need and want help, contact us at connect@transformingmission.org, Sara Thomas and I (Tim Bias) are ready to assist you in becoming a compassionate leader.    

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