How to Overcome the Distraction of Compassion
Distracted leaders are octopods spinning like tornados with sucker-filled tentacles clinging to ‘important’ trivialities.
You can’t go eight directions at the same time and make meaningful progress.
The centrifugal force of distraction drives leaders toward triviality, anxiety, and burnout.
Solving distraction that drains energy and weakens resolve:
#1. The distraction of compassion.
Nobility is in action, not emotion.
You might say, “I’m worried about retaining our top talent.” The question is, “What are you doing about employee retention?”
Concern apart from action is draining distraction.
Evaluate compassion in order to eliminate distraction:
- Why am I concerned?
- How motivated to find a solution are the people involved in this concern?
- On a scale of 1:10 how much of my concern falls within the realm of my responsibility?
- If things were going perfectly, what would NOT be happening?
- If things were going perfectly, what WOULD be happening?
- What am I willing to do to move this concern toward solution?
- What is the likelihood this concern can come to acceptable solution?
Bonus: Within the context of current challenges and opportunities, where does this concern fall on a scale of 1:10?
#2. The distraction of delegated compassion.
Compassionate people – who delegate their concerns – distract, drain, and frustrate while standing aloof.
A compassionate colleague informs you that some employees are upset. Emotional concern – without action – is one more dripping faucet in an ocean of drips.
Expecting others to resolve your concerns for you is draining distraction.
Evaluate delegated compassion:
Ask compassionate people…
- What have you tried to resolve this concern?
- What would you suggest?
- What do you need to begin addressing your concern?
Tip: Some people manipulate with compassion. They say, “I’m worried about xyz.” They mean, “I want you to do something about xyz.”
Where busy equals important, it’s embarrassing to effectively manage time.
How might feelings of concern or compassion distract leaders?
How might distracted leaders get a grip on the danger of feeling concerned but not taking action?
I’m a big fan, Dan, but I don’t like thinking about compassion as a distraction. In my experience, far too many leaders lack real compassion, which leads to poor morale. Compassion can certainly be misplaced, such as getting involved in a person’s personal problems. For me, a compassionate leader is one who shows interest, shares experiences when it’s appropriate, and is an active listener. I’ve known leaders who did none of those, and were truly poor leaders.
I like #3 because it keeps me focused on what I should be doing, and lets me delegate what I should not.
Compassion IS action…. . If employees are unhappy, and someone takes the time to bring it to your attention, its time to sit down and address it. If you don’t or appear indifferent, you are sowing seeds of hatred, and that will come back to haunt the company. If it happens too often, compassion is not the problem. A good example of compassionate leadership right is NZ. I agree with Rocky, because the stats show more psycho/socipaths are CEOS than occur in the general population… Apparently, the FBI keep a watch on CEO’s the same way they do psychopaths… their personality profile fits psychopath profile. But psychopath or not, corporate charters in the US are not built with human good in mind… unlike other countries. This attitude is possibly linked to all the pollution/toxins dumped. Distraction, whether emotional or from too many different tasks, is a drain of energy, no doubt
“Concern apart from action is distraction.”
Concern, with inaction, is lack of compassion.
Struggling with, is sweeter than struggling for.
Chose affirmation over the lesser of evils, no matter the virtue of appearances, or appearance of virtues
I disagree with this one. I believe that compassion leads to action. If you are compassionate and passionate enough about something, change will come. I don’t believe that emotions should be used as a vice of leadership, rather as a stepping stone for it.