I live in the Metropolitan Detroit area where there has been a great deal of “tough times” over the past few years. Job losses, economic downturns, automotive takeovers are just a few of the phrases I have repeatedly heard in the recent past. Dads, who work tirelessly to provide for their families, have sat in my office in tears due to a job loss and wonder about what will happen next. People who thought they had security in their work, find themselves with an empty box and 30 minutes to clean out their workspace. Leadership is about decisiveness, clarity and vision. But it is also has to be compassionate toward the lives of people.
I recently read a Peanuts cartoon strip that illustrates the point of compassion…in a bad way. Lucy, in her motivational manner, says to Charlie Brown, “You, Charlie Brown, are a foul ball in the line drive of life! You’re in the shadow of your own goal posts! You are a miscue! You are three putts on the eighteenth green! You are a seven-ten split in the tenth frame…you are a missed free throw, a shanked nine iron and a called third strike!” That’s hardly the definition of compassion or anything close to it. For leaders, we have the great opportunity to show compassion to the people who entrust us with leadership.
This is the time of year where everyone is feeling a little more compassionate. But the need for leaders to show grace, mercy and compassion doesn’t just end after the holiday season. It is just as important on March 25 and September 25. And just as decisiveness and vision are important leadership qualities, we cannot forget compassion. It is a characteristic needed year round.