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The Secrets of Compassion for Leaders

“I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.” Lao Tzu

Today’s challenge: Be passionate about compassionate leadership.

Compassion doesn’t ignore problems. It isn’t neglecting results or sacrificing forward movement. But leadership without compassion is tyranny.

Successful leaders think about compassion and results, not compassion or results. 

Show compassion AND:

  1. Call out mediocrity.
  2. Challenge the process.
  3. Confront and correct.
  4. Hold people accountable.

It’s weakness to accept mediocrity. But calling out mediocrity without compassion is cruel. Confronting with compassion inspires.

Compassion goes too far when good feelings take priority over mission, vision, and values.

Compassion strengthens:

  1. Connection.
  2. Relationship.
  3. Authenticity.
  4. Boldness to try again.

Brave leaders show compassion by accepting frailties, giving second chances, and driving for the future at the same time.

Four powerful benefits of compassionate leadership:

  1. Compassion transforms harshness into inspiration by opening hearts to the tough stuff of leadership.
  2. Compassion turns arrogance into example.
  3. Compassion strengthens followers.
  4. Compassion energizes change. There is no lasting change without compassion.

The second secret of compassion:

Turn toward not away.

Do you turn toward need or away?

The challenge of compassion is turning toward need, frailty, and failure. In our pursuit of strengths and success, we like to pretend that teammates don’t struggle. They should just deal with it.

Don’t stand aloof from humanity by pretending everyone is superhuman.

Compassion is turning toward humanity, both ours and theirs. Ask:

  1. How might you bring your authentic self to work?
  2. How do you feel? The retired chairman of the Joint Chiefs said the neglected question is how do you feel.
  3. How can I help?

Turn toward frailty without enabling weakness.

How might leaders practice compassionate leadership without becoming weak?

(The first secret of compassion: Set boundaries.)

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