Finding Compassion without Losing Power


Compassion is essential to exceptional leadership, extraordinary results, powerful impact, and richness of life.

What does compassionate leadership look like? The opposite of compassion is mean.

Mean leaders:

  1. Send the message that they can’t be questioned.
  2. Don’t understand the personal goals of people on their team.
  3. Disregard the emotional impact of their behaviors.
  4. Elevate personal interests over serving. They make life easy for them and hard for others.
  5. Coerce rather than influence.
  6. Manipulate rather than connect.
  7. Control rather than release.
  8. Berate and yell.
  9. Play politics.
  10. Stand aloof.


The sticky side of compassion is the notion that compassionate leaders don’t confront tough issues, challenge negative behaviors, or expect excellence. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Compassionate leaders confront and challenge because it’s what’s best for individuals and organizations. Weak leaders propagate mediocrity with falsely protective behaviors.

Protection makes people weak.

Compassionate leaders seek the highest good of others and the success of their organization. Anything less is selfish.

12 marks of compassionate leaders:

  1. Create shared performance standards.
  2. Understand and leverage the talents of their team.
  3. Adapt to others rather than demanding others adapt to them.
  4. Hold themselves to the highest standards of performance.
  5. Refuse to fix everyone’s problems for them. Lousy leaders coddle.
  6. Recognize motivation is an individual matter.
  7. Communicate with transparency, candor, kindness, and optimism.
  8. Take responsibility to develop others.
  9. Serve “with” rather than lording it “over.”
  10. Act respectfully toward others, even if they feel disrespected.
  11. Say thank-you even while pursuing excellence.
  12. Smile.


Compassion enables relationship. Relationship enhances influence. Leadership is influence.

Facebook fans chimed in on, “The quality I’d most like to develop is ________.” One reader filled in the blank with, “compassion.”

How can compassion strengthen leadership?

What are the dangers of compassion?

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