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In His Own Words Great leadership a mixture of compassion, accountability

  • Published Thursday, May 8, 2014, at 12 a.m.

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Compassion without accountability gets you nowhere.

Accountability without compassion gets you alienated.

Blending the two is the essence of great leadership. Let’s take a look.

Compassion without accountability:

• Believes listening, consensus and empathy are sufficient motivators of behavior.

• Avoids asking directly for things.

• Views confronting negative behavior as uncaring and mean.

• Common philosophy includes, “Be nice,” “Don’t hurt other people’s feelings,” “Put yourself in her shoes,” “Don’t raise your voice.”

• Results in poor follow-through, low confidence that goals will be accomplished, and a leader who is liked but not respected.

• Agreement without commitment.

Accountability without compassion:

• Believes rules, consequences and expectations are sufficient motivators of behavior.

• Avoids listening.

• Views empathy as a sign of weakness.

• Common philosophy includes, “Failure is not an option,” “High expectations are necessary,” “Sometimes you have to show them who’s boss.”

• Results in low morale and trust, and a leader who is feared but not respected.

• Compliance without loyalty.

Compassionate accountability:

• Openness to one’s own and others’ feelings, needs, and wants – validates emotions without commiserating or discounting.

• Resourcefulness around problem-solving – curiously explores possibilities without taking over responsibility for the solution.

• Persistence around commitments, goals, and boundaries – without threats, ultimatums, or implicit expectations.

In the long run, compassionate accountability feels better, gets more done, and builds stronger loyalties.

Nate Regier is a founding owner of Next Element Consulting, a leadership development and communication training firm in Newton. He is co-author of “Beyond Drama: Transcending Energy Vampires.” Reach him at nate@next-element.com or 316-772-6174.

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