So I’m standing there, talking with a seventy-year-old man, who has recently retired from his career as a vice president overseeing hundreds of workers each day. His wife is undergoing cancer treatment and he lays this on me: “Jen, with Nancy’s illness, I’ve realized I was such a jerk as a boss. My people would come to me and try to tell me about their loved one’s sickness. I didn’t care; I was too focused on hitting my production numbers.” The regret in his voice is palpable.
It’s tragic when a leader learns a life lesson too late.
I’ve heard it said that “numbers are the language of business”, which drives many a leader to focus solely on matters of the mind. Hitting those numbers isn’t worth squat if in the process what’s left behind is a stockpile of uncaring interactions. Each and every day, we all have a choice to lead—with both our head and our heart. If numbers are the language of business, then compassion is the condition that allows leaders to speak it without callousness.
Think about your daily leadership actions. Will your leadership legacy be filled with regret or satisfaction?