Some of the greatest leaders I’ve ever been with or read about have demonstrated compassion using two key elements: intention and impact. These are the cornerstones to leading with compassion. While there are many excellent managers, truly transformational leaders are scanning for intent and impact, which is where compassion resides.

How does intention and impact play into compassionate leadership?

INTENTION – A desired outcome. A vision or possibility that moves people into action. What is the intended outcome, result, influence, or contribution to those you’re leading? The origin of intention resides with you, the leader.

IMPACT – This is the destination of a leader’s contribution and conversation. How does one measure impact? Through performance, behaviors, and ultimately, actions. Impact will drive action, not intent. For example, while a leader’s intention may be to excite and energize his/her team, if the impact on the team is fear or worry, that’s where the action will come from.

The measure of compassionate leadership = Action

Compassionate Leadership is often difficult to measure. People just know it when they’re in the presence of it. Nonetheless, we do assign judgments to leaders such as good or bad, strong or weak, FOR others vs. FOR themselves. But hands down, leaders that stand in a league of their own incorporate compassion by aligning their intent and the desired impact.

So, what is an empowering view of compassion?

“COMPASSION”, as defined by Webster is “sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others: the victims should be treated with compassion.”

Rather than defining compassion with the aspect of suffering and pity, what if we viewed compassion from the perspective of Webster’s synonyms: sympathy, empathy, care, concern, solicitude, sensitivity, warmth, love, tenderness, mercy, leniency, tolerance, kindness, humanity and charity. This second perspective (synonyms) elicits our connection to each other and our humanity.

Can you say you are clear on your intentions? Who would you ask to find out what your intentions are? Do you know the impact your leadership has on others? Who would you ask to find out?

INTENTION is located, created, and has the focus be with YOU.
IMPACT resides with and has the focus be with OTHERS (those you lead).
COMPASSION combines the two. It starts with you and what you are out to cause with and for others.

Are you a compassionate leader? What traits do you exhibit in your leadership? Aligning INTENT and IMPACT, against a backdrop of COMPASSION, and you have the recipe for true leadership that makes a difference.

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