Compassion – The Fourth C of Leadership

Mark Twain once said,

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”

The best leaders help others become great by coaching, mentoring, and investing in others’ lives.  Their goal is to empower others to achieve their full potential, thereby developing the next generation of leaders.

The Inta-Greated Leadership ModelBefore one can go about coaching and developing greatness in others, however, it is important that those people feel that the leader cares about them.  For, it has also been said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”  We are all more open to being coached and receiving advice when we trust that the person coaching us and offering us advice has our best interests at heart.  Otherwise, our natural tendency is to become defensive and offended.  That is why the fourth C of leadership is Compassion.  A leader must be motivated by love and compassion to serve and empower his or her people.           

Kouzes and Posner (2006) refer to it as “Enable Others to Act,” and describe it as infusing “people with energy and confidence” and ensuring that “people feel strong and capable” (p. 6).  In striving to do so, emotional intelligence plays a key role.

Emotional Intelligence expert, Daniel Goleman (2001) writes, “What distinguishes great leaders from merely good ones?  It isn’t IQ or technical skills.  It’s Emotional Intelligence: a group of five skills that enable the best leaders to maximize their own and their followers’ performance” (p. 1).  Emotional Intelligence does this by helping leaders understand that everyone is unique – everyone has his or her own combination of personality style, strengths, weaknesses, and motivators – therefore, not everyone can be coached or developed the same way.  [Which connects us back to our first C, Composition.]

The call to coach and develop others is also prominent in the transformational and servant leadership theories.  Individualized consideration is the fourth factor of transformational leadership.  It consists of “…focusing on the development and mentoring of individual followers and attending to their specific needs” (Powell, 2011, p. 5), and “…trying to assist followers in becoming fully actualized” (Northouse, 2010, p. 179).

In regard to servant leadership, many of Spears’ (2002) ten characteristics of the servant-leader focus on coaching and mentoring others.  Those factors include: (a) empathy, accepting and recognizing others for their unique gifts; (b) healing, the calling to “help make whole” those they lead (p. 5); (c) stewardship, “a commitment to serving the needs of others” (p. 7); and finally (d) commitment to the growth of people, the leader’s responsibility to nurture the personal and professional growth of his or her employees.

Finally, it should be noted that leaders must not only coach, mentor, and empower others, but also personally be coached, mentored, and empowered.  There is a need for leaders to seek counsel, so that they can be continually growing and developing.  It is only after one has personally wrestled with tough questions, decisions, and experiences that one can lead others down that same path.  As Manz (2001) puts it, leaders must “…serve as an example of someone who has sincerely struggled with being personally effective and found his or her own way.  Then, as a result, [leaders] are in a better position to help others find their own way as well” (p. 15).

Once again, however, a leader cannot stop here.  In addition to equipping people to achieve the vision through Compassion, leaders must also utilize the fifth C, Communication, in order to cast the vision and inspire others to action.

[As was discussed in a previous blog post, here at Inta-Great, we define leadership as “a service-oriented relationship by which change occurs as a leader influences others toward a common vision.”  In order to be effective at influencing others in the pursuit of that vision, we propose that leaders follow the Inta-Greated Leadership Model which consists of the “Seven Cs of Leadership:” (1) Composition; (2) Character; (3) Catalyst; (4) Compassion; (5) Communication; (6) Courage; and (7) Celebration.  Embodying the Seven Cs is what allows leaders to have an impact at the personal, team, and organizational levels and ultimately results in real transformation and sustainable results.]

Referenced Works:

  • Goleman, D. (2001). What makes a leader? In J.S. Osland, D.A. Kolb, & I.M. Rubin (Eds.), The organizational behavior reader (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
  • Kouzes, J. & Posner, B. (2003). Student leadership practices inventory.  San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
  • Manz, C. (2001). The leadership wisdom of Jesus. San Francisco: Brett-Koehler.
  • Northouse, P. G. (2010). Leadership: Theory and practice (5th ed). Los Angeles: Sage.
  • Powell, G. N. (2011).  The gender and leadership wars.  Organizational Dynamics, 40, 1-9.
  • Spears, L. C. (2002). Tracing the past, present, and future of servant-leadership. In L. C. Spears, & M. Lawrence. (Eds.), Focus on leadership: Servant-leadership for the 21st century. (pp. 1-16). New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

The Inta-Greated Leadership Model

Leadership is often discussed but rarely understood.  A complicated discipline – it represents a mix of psychology, sociology, anthropology, communications, business, and political science theory – it is not easy nor for the faint hearted.  Instead, leadership is a calling that requires dedication, perseverance, and humility.  For those who persevere, however, leadership is greatly rewarding as leaders play a key role in creating, changing, and cultivating culture.  But first, being an effective leader requires that an individual understand what leadership really is.

To many, leadership equates to management.  And yet this is not the case.  Management is focused on tasks and details and comes from a place of positional authority.  In contrast, leadership is focused on vision and serving others from a relationship built on influence.  Anyone with a title can demand a certain level of compliance from their subordinates; however, a true leader is one who not only inspires compliance but greatness.  I grew up playing sports, and in that context we used to call it “giving 110%” or “running through walls.”  At worst, management will result in people giving up when faced with a wall; at best, those people might figure out a way around the wall.  Leadership alone is what inspires and enables people to run through walls.

The question becomes then, “How do I enable and inspire others to run through walls?”  The simple answer of “being a leader” is not enough.  What does it mean to be a leader?  After studying many different leadership theories and perspectives, here at Inta-Great, we have come to believe there is a fundamental difference between providing a definition of leadership and providing a model of leadership.  While a definition is simply about explaining a phenomenon, models are about what specific behaviors, actions, and character traits are effective or ineffective.  Definitions describe; models prescribe. With that in mind, we’ve developed the following definition and model of leadership.

At Inta-Great, we define leadership as “a service-oriented relationship by which change occurs as a leader influences others toward a common vision.”

And, in order to be effective at influencing others in the pursuit of that vision, we propose that leaders follow the Inta-Greated Leadership Model consisting of the “Seven Cs of Leadership:” (1) Composition; understanding the unique personalities, strengths, and motivators of themselves and the team; (2) Character; cultivating credibility and moral authority; (3) Catalyst; inspiring and aligning action toward a common vision; (4) Compassion; coaching and empowering people to do the best they can; (5) Communication; persuading, presenting, listening, and negotiating; (6) Courage; seizing opportunities despite the inherent risk and uncertainties; and (7) Celebration; showing gratitude and celebrating success.

We believe that embodying the Seven Cs is what allows leaders to have an impact at the personal, team, and organizational levels ultimately resulting in real personal and cultural transformation and sustainable results.  Please see a visual representation of the Inta-Greated Leadership Model as Figure 1.1 below.

The Inta-Greated Model of Leadership

Free from fads, fluff, and feel-good teaching, the Inta-Greated Leadership Model is based on proven leadership principles.  To illustrate this, we will be publishing a series of blog posts in the near future that will discuss how each of the Seven Cs connect to the leadership literature.  We hope that you join us as we explore the research and evidence supporting each of the Seven Cs and the impact they are capable of having at the personal, team, and organizational levels.  And, as always, we wish you the best of luck as you continue on your leadership journey.