In their article: “Compassion as a Generative Force,” Jane E. Dutton and Kristina Workman observe that “when compassion is lacking, outcomes are flawed.” That may explain why the president’s actions or decisions on such important issues as healthcare, climate change, Charlottesville or DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival) have created such strong reactions on all ends of the political spectrum. Many have criticized Trump’s actions on these issues because of the significant harm they may cause the American people and the deepening divisions that may result in the country.
Imagine for a moment the president one day declares: “I would like to unite the country on issues important to all Americans.” In this imagined scenario, if Trump were to ask, “What should I do differently?” my suggestion would be for Trump (or any leader) to examine the importance of emotions in leadership, and specifically the role of compassion as the basis for an alternative approach to decision making.
There are seven emotional competencies that I consider most critical for effective leadership: empathy, compassion, interest, optimism, inspiration, trust and positivity. The presence or absence of any of these emotions greatly influences a person in his or her possibilities for action. Being aware and having the ability to shift one’s emotional state allows a leader to make better decisions.
Among those seven emotional states, empathy and compassion are at the very foundation where a leader who would like to develop his or her emotional competence may reap the greatest benefits. (See the Boomerang Leadership Framework.)