Leading with Compassion

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By Stephane Leblanc, Founder and CEO, International Centre for Conscious Leadership


The world is becoming more and more challenging for all of us with innovations happening at breakneck speeds and humanity facing so many challenges. No wonder so many people are stressed and living well below their full potential.

Compassion has not only become a necessary skill for leaders but one of the most important one as it allows leaders to welcome their team members as whole humans with human lives outside of work and human emotions at work.

One of the most important task of a leader is to create an emotionally safe workplace so all team members can thrive and rise to their full potential. This is what will allow the organization to perform at its full potential and achieve breakthrough results. Not the common fear-based culture with excessive focus on results that we find in so many organizations.

Many modern and ancient leaders have recognized compassion as a key leadership skill.  

General Douglas MacArthur said that as a leader, he needed to have compassion for those he led because most of them were going into battle and would be facing death.

A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent. –General Douglas MacArthur

Jeff Weiner, the CEO of Linked in, has made compassion one of the key skills for leaders in his organization as it allows leaders to pause, and be a spectator in their own thoughts, especially when getting emotional. It means walking a mile in others shoes, and understanding their hopes, their fears, their strengths and their weaknesses. And it also means doing everything within our power to set others up to be successful.

Managing compassionately is not just a better way to build a team, it’s a better way to build a company. - Jeff Weiner

As highlighted in the book The Art of Happiness from the Dalai Lama there is difference between compassion, defined as walking a mile in another person’s shoes, and empathy, which is feeling what another person feels. Compassion is a more objective form of empathy. Having the ability to see clearly through others perspective can be invaluable developing and maintaining healthy relationships, particularly in tense work situations.

Compassion can and should be taught, not only through the school curriculum, but in higher education and corporate learning and development programs as well. It is one of the most essential skills to teach as it is a basic human relationship skill and better humans make better leaders.

Wisdom without compassion is ruthlessness, and compassion without wisdom is folly. - Fred Kofman

Developing a culture that embraces compassion allows the organization to develop a competitive advantage as it allows everyone to understand the others perspective, build trust, and align around a shared mission. 

Leaders who lead with compassion are simply better leaders.

Are you ready to lead with compassion?