A leader, whatever position in life that is, has a strong impact on people’s lives. As mothers, fathers, siblings, uncles, aunts, friends, coworkers, or whatever title or position you hold, there is someone that you impact whether you know it or not! Sometimes the only power we have is to be a great example. That in itself is being a real leader!
Leadership is often mistaken for something loud, something that’s in your face, and something that is forceful, at least that’s what I thought it was for years. In most of the history classes I was in, I read and heard about Rome, Greece, Medieval Europe, and even the WWI & WWII leaders being people of extreme aggression and in my mind, it defined leadership that way for years, well into my 30’s.
As I grew my first business in my early 20’s I always felt that my leadership skills were inadequate and that my kindness was a weakness. In fact, there were a few times I was told that I was too soft and that I should change my style in order to be able to command any group of people. For a few years in my life, I actually felt that kindness was bringing me down. It wasn’t until I started to read heavily that I discovered that kindness and being a leader were tightly connected!
For me, Mother Teresa’s unforgettable devotion to helping the world’s poorest, most impoverished and vulnerable people left a lasting impression.
Her form of leading was all about being kind and caring for others. It was remarkable to see how her way of leading was powerful enough to cut across conflicts and enemy lines — a strength clearly exemplified during the 1982 Siege of Beirut.
GREAT leadership isn’t what you see in the movies, what you read in the history books, or what you see in the news! True leadership is kind and inclusive. The qualities of a true leader revolve around compassion and gratitude. A true leader listens and puts other people first. A strong leader doesn’t go to war first, they take a step back and take a look at the best options. A true leader is a WARRIOR! A warrior that will fight and defend, but will never lose sight of the fact that the world is interconnected and knows that the world is all working together to achieve something greater. The one characteristic that stands out among all leaders that have impacted the world for the better is kindness.
Kindness is love in action. That action starts with us, with how we respond to other people around us. We’ve seen the word “Self Awareness” thrown around many times over the last few years, so let me break down what that really means so you can have a clear definition in your mind. Self-awareness starts with Empathy. The word Empathy means “Feeling Into” something or someone. Empathy is a necessary starting point and it opens us up to what phycologists call 3 types of empathy that we find in the book “The Kindness Cure” by Tara Cousineau PhD.
1. “Emotional Empathy: Is when you instantaneously feel happy or sad when another son feels happy or sad. You mirror the emotional states of another person.
2. Cognitive Empathy: It gives you the ability to take the perspective of another person, imagining or intellectually understanding their thoughts and feelings without necessarily evoking emotions. This is referred to as “Theory of Mind or Mentalizing” and it engages a different neural circuitry in your brain.
3. Motivational Empathy: Both of the above lead to this and this empathy motivates us to care about each other and to act kindly.”
Understanding that empathy leads to the greatest form of kindness I’ll leave you with this final outlook on what leadership should look like in your mind…
“During my first encounters with Mother Teresa…I was struck by her profound humility. I knew that she was world-famous and I had imagined that all famous people have a sense of their own greatness, a pride that shows through in their words and manners. There was none of that…” Susan Conroy (Book Author).
I challenge you this week to look at the world with kindness, to realize that you have the power to change those around you through your actions of humility and empathy! Be Brilliant my friends! #ABrilliantTribe.
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