The First Ingredient That All Great Leaders Have (Part 2)

by | Feb 25, 2019 | Leadership

There is no “one size fits all” leader or leadership style. But there are characteristics or qualities that all great leaders have in common. Last session, I shared about how compassion is foundational to effective leadership. In today’s session, I’m going to discuss how we can develop the skill of compassion and maximize our influence.

Leadership Training Session Video



Session Outline

Last session, we discovered the first ingredient all great leaders have is compassion.  Compassion is the driving force behind our influence and is foundational to our leadership journey. Compassion may seem like an inherent quality, but just like any skill, it can be refined and developed.

What if I don’t care? 

After last week’s session, you might be thinking, “But Shawn! You don’t know who is on my team or in my family. That person is just so hard to be around.”  And I would say that you are right. I think we could all list people in our lives who are difficult, frustrating, and annoying.

How do we grow in our compassion for them?  We spend time with them. And I mean intentional time where you get to know them. I know this is hard and some people will always get on your nerves. I’m not saying you have to be this person’s best friend. But when you learn another person’s story, their past struggles and success, their future hopes and aspirations, empathy develops and compassion grows. Great leaders recognize that compassion is not just a feeling; it’s an intentional choice.

Encouragement Languages

In order to develop the skill of compassion and use it effectively, we must speak that person’s language.  Gary Thomas wrote a book entitled “The Five Love Languages”.  His premise was that people receive and show love in different ways, just like people speak different languages. He created 5 “love languages” for couples and relationships.

I took his points and adapted them into what I like to call “Encouragement Languages”.  These are quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and gift giving.  Most people identify strongly with one or two of these.

Here’s how it works:  Just as you can more effectively communicate in a foreign country when you speak their native language, your compassion will be more effective when you speak someone’s encouragement language. For example, one of my encouragement languages is quality time.  That doesn’t mean the other languages don’t encourage me, but it does mean I’m the most encouraged when someone offers to grab lunch or spend time with me.

Remember, I’m not talking about manipulation or suggesting you neglect the other encouragement languages. I’m talking about making our encouragement as impactful as possible. In financial terms, your investment in someone else’s life will yield greater gains when you use their top encouragement language.  Your goal as a leader is to figure out the encouragement language of your team and consistently speak it.

Game Plan

  1. Go back to your influence list.
  2. Write down the top two encouragement languages for each of those people. If you don’t know, then start trying languages and see which one works best.

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