Five Steps To Build Compassionate Leadership Capacity

compassionate leadership

91% of leaders surveyed say compassion is very important for leadership and 80% say they want to enhance their compassion but don’t know-how.

(Harvard Business Review: February 2018)

Becoming a more compassionate leader gives you and your organization an advantage, especially as we all face uncertain times and work to build our economy and provide meaningful work.  Love fuels compassion, so leading with love and leading with compassion are intertwined.

As we face gun violence, racial and economic inequities, climate change, the devastation created by a pandemic, and other challenges, we need to embrace the practice of leading with love.

Over the last twenty years, studying compassion and its impact on individuals and cultures has emerged from universities. Not surprisingly, compassionate leadership has been proven to fuel positive change in organizations and beyond. The scholars have caught up with the sages who have touted the benefits of love and compassion for thousands of years.

compassionate leaderAs a leader, you may wonder how to lead with love in a way that positively impacts you, your stakeholders, and your organization. The process will involve a self-examination, learning new approaches, and practicing leadership as a whole and embodied experience. Here are five steps to help you, make changes:

  1. Start with self-compassion. Developing self-care practices and patience with yourself is the best place to begin. For example, as this work- week comes to a close focus on the progress you made, rather than your mistakes.
  2. Model vulnerability. It’s impossible to build a loving and compassionate organization if people hide their emotions, mistakes, and need for support. As a leader, show people that it is ok to be a real, imperfect, and whole.
  3. Practice being compassionate with others on and off the job. For an organizational change context, I define compassion as the embodied act of preventing or alleviating suffering for all stakeholders. To begin, ask yourself, how can use more compassion and I lead with love in this situation? Developing compassionate leadership can be done at home, in your community, and at work. And remember to practice self-compassion as you develop your capacity.
  4. Read about leading with compassion and love. Here is a Leading with Love Reading List I compiled from compassionate scholars, thinkers, and practitioners.
  1. Make a leading with love plan for the next week. Write down three simple actions you can take referring to 1-4 above that you can complete in the next seven days including one action related to being kinder to yourself and perhaps, buying one the books from the list.

If you know a compassionate leader I should interview for these Ivy Exec posts and Compassionate Leaders Circle Podcast, please email me at laurel@compassionateleaderscircle.com. Learn more at CompassionateLeadersCircle.com.

About the Author

As the founder of Compassionate Leaders Circle, I am dedicated to helping individuals find work they love and organizations provide loveable work. Our curriculum tracks include Pivot with Purpose, Lead with Love and, Coach with Courage. My passions include impact enterprises, spiritual adventures, education equality and, properly brewed tea. I have a BS from the College of Business at Cornell University and an MA in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University.