Are You A Compassionate Leader?

Are You A Compassionate Leader?

On one of my walks over the last few days, I listened to a fabulous podcast! It was titled Leading with Compassion. The speaker was LinkedIn’s CEO, Jeff Weiner, who, by the way, has a 100% approval rating on Glassdoor (an online job search/company review site). I encourage you to take 30 minutes to listen to his entire podcast.

This podcast got me thinking about the difference between empathy and compassion. I pondered what it means to lead with compassion, and as leaders, how to take on the tough stuff with that same compassion.

Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s place and to, in a sense, feel what they feel in a particular situation. You might be able to draw on a similar experience in your own life or just be able to imagine what it would feel like to have that experience. Empathy is an important leadership skill.

However, compassion couples empathy with the desire to act from that place of feeling it. Therefore, a compassionate leader looks through the lens of another person, and determines the best action from that place as well. To do this requires a heightened level of consciousness because this isn’t, necessarily, what we are taught as young managers.

Many of us were taught not to get emotionally involved with the people we manage. While I’m not proud of it, I know early on in my career, compassionate wouldn’t have been a word used to describe me.

So what does it mean to lead with compassion? For me, it means I let go of my judgments, get present, and objectively look at the situation. Who is this person? What are they experiencing? What support do they need? What will best serve them, me and our outcome?

Compassion doesn’t mean we lose ourselves. In fact, to truly be a compassionate leader we must first learn to be compassionate with ourselves, which is often the toughest thing to do. Compassion means we can look at the situation from different perspectives and identify the most loving action.

A few days ago, my family was over for lunch, and we wandered into a conversation about having to let employees go. This is one of those tough jobs that leaders face. Does being a compassionate leader mean that we leave someone in the wrong job because we don’t want to hurt them? No. In fact, it’s the opposite. We get someone out of the wrong job because it is hurting them and you.

When someone is not a good fit for a job, they know they aren’t being successful and that never feels good to anyone. When we know that we’ve done everything in our power to help someone be successful and it’s just not working, then it’s time to lovingly help them move on to whatever is next. This might be a different position, or a step back into a previous position where they were successful. It may also be helping them identify what they really want to do and letting them go so they can pursue that dream.

Whatever the situation, when it’s done from a genuine place of love and caring for another human being and ourselves, we create something that unites us. That’s how we not only run a successful organization, it is also how we get 100% approval ratings with Glassdoor.

How will you be more compassionate to yourself and others this week?

Experience the power of compassion in action with one of our classes, and feel the difference it will make in your life. Let’s talk to see if it’s a good fit for you. Reach out via email at to start the conversation.