Why do we need to learn how to be gentle? Because it’s a prerequisite to leadership!

be gentle

In the last 2 weeks, we’ve established that gentleness diffuses conflicts, de-escalates anger, and disarms critics. In addition, gentleness is also persuasive and attractive. But why do I spend 2 weeks talking about the need to be gentle? Because gentleness is a prerequisite to leadership. If you want to be a leader, whether at work, at home, in government, or in your community, you first have to be gentle.

Gentleness leads to respect, and no one can truly lead without being respected. Don’t get angry when people speak to you about areas that need changing. Instead, learn from them. Choose to have a gentle and teachable spirit. You’ll find that your gentleness earns you the respect of the people around you. And that respect will make you a leader.

Also, treating other people with respect does not mean you have to compromise your beliefs. I have friends and colleagues who disagree with me and who don’t believe what I believe. That’s ok. Learn how to disagree without being disagreeable.

While gentleness is important for many reasons, we can’t just walk out the door and force ourselves to be gentle. Gentleness needs to be an “inside job.” That is something we need to work on inside of us. Maybe you’ve used the excuse that you’re “just not a gentle person.” But that’s a learned trait that we sometimes treat like it’s inherent. We can learn how to be gentle.

Here are three simple ways to practice gentleness this week:

  1. When somebody serves you, be understanding, not demanding. Next time you’re in a long line at a government office or coffee shop, be considerate—be understanding—of the person who eventually helps you.
  2. When somebody disagrees with you, be tender without surrender. You’ll never get your point across by being cross. You don’t have to back down from the truth, but you can treat people with gentleness and respect.
  3. When somebody disappoints you, be gentle, not judgmental. “Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another.”

As you put these things into practice every day, you’ll find yourself becoming gentler. You may even notice that more and more people start to follow you. As Paul Sheppard said, “You are not a leader if no one follows you. You are merely taking a walk.”

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