The Major Attributes of Leadership (#8 of 11):
8. Sympathy and Understanding: Successful leaders must be in sympathy with their followers. Moreover, they must understand them and their problems.
(From: Think and Grow Rich by Napoleopn Hill).
Leaders who rule by fear and anxiety will never draw out the best that their followers have to give. Sympathy and understanding breed loyalty and trust. It is only through loyalty that employees, vendors, consultants and other followers wholeheartedly accept your (the Leader’s) interests, goals and vision as their own. Only when the followers take the leader’s vision into their hearts can they execute on the vision at greater than the anticipated result. Through sympathy and understanding, the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts. Something magical happens. The combined efforts of your followers will yield a result that far exceeds what logic and accounting say it should. The return on investment for your sympathy and understanding is that your followers want you to succeed because they truly love you and will sacrifice their own interests for you.
I have had this experience as a follower with several clients for whom I would take a bullet. I also experience this daily in the respect and admiration of the hundreds of men and women who follow me on a daily basis through the Hurculean efforts they expend to help me achieve my client’s goals.
One note: There are some people who, no matter how much you invest into them in sympathy and understanding, will never reciprocate with loyalty. You will know them when you meet them. These people are leaches, takers, selfish and disloyal. They may never change. You must immediately and decisively cut these people out of your lives without mercy or hesitation. You cannot and must not sacrifice your own future to spare the feelings of people who will never appreciate it. You also owe it to your loyal followers to protect them from the rotten apples that would spoil the bushel.