There are many different traits that are important when leading a partnership or a team. You need to have expertise in your field/area, be humble, work well with others, be able to inspire others around a common vision, and many others, but there is one trait that is extremely important that might not always be obvious.
It’s compassion! As Theodore Roosevelt reminds us, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Over the years, I’ve found that my partners are not just people I work with, they are also my friends. When we think of partners as friends, it gives us a new perspective on our interactions with them and how we treat them. I have been very fortunate to work with many people who have taught me a lot about compassion and have shown me compassion. Here are some ways you can show compassion to your partners and colleagues.
- Be approachable. On any given week, the people I work with may share with me that they got a promotion, found out they were pregnant, that their husband has just been diagnosed with cancer or that their family dog recently died. I am honored that they feel comfortable enough to share both the good news and the difficult news with me. Are you someone that your partners can talk to about what is happening in their lives? Can they be honest about both their struggles and their successes?
- Show kindness. When people are open enough to share with you, listen well and show kindness. Depending upon the news or the relationship you have with this person, there are several ways to show kindness. You can ask them how they are doing when you see them (and really want to know!), send them an email or text message to let them know you are thinking of them, bring their favorite snacks or coffee to your next meeting, write them a hand-written note, or do something else that you know would be meaningful to them. It doesn’t have to be big, but a small act of kindness can make a huge impact!
- Extend grace. When big things are happening in the lives of those you work with, they may not be as focused on your collective mission or able to meet every deadline that you agreed upon prior to the situation. Rather than getting frustrated and grumpy about it, I encourage you to find ways to extend grace. This doesn’t mean you have to throw out all of your plans, but recognize that their priorities may have shifted for a time or they may not be able to focus on the work you are doing together. Check in with them about how they are doing and see if it’s possible to adjust the timeline or find some additional support from others. I know it may seem like you are giving up on accomplishing short-term collective goals in a timely manner, but I encourage you to consider the long-term relationship which will be essential to achieving long-term collective goals.
In many ways, this comes down to the golden rule: Treat others as you would want to be treated!
So what about you? How have others shown you compassion? Or how have you shown compassion to others?