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Why Compassionate Leadership Matters

Compassion comes from the Latin – compati – ‘suffer with’ and there is no doubt that at the moment we are all completely in the same boat and suffering in our own small or big ways.

So, it stands to reason that now is the time to show the greatest compassion we can to ourselves and everyone else – whether they be individuals, teams, groups, communities or society more generally.

In recent conversations I’m learning that one of the biggest things for those not able to be with others is isolation; and what comes with that, it seems, is a greater sense of vulnerability. Reflecting on the impacts of the past few months on us as a human race has become a bit of an obsession for me. We are, after all, social beings so it stands to reason that constant ‘virtual’ interactions – both social and professional - could cause, for many (not all), a real, deep sense of loss of self.

I’ve been thinking about it as a head, heart and gut ‘thing’. When I am with people in person I use a balance of all three to engage, to sense my way through dialogue and interactions. When I am with people in a virtual space, I suspect I use my head and gut more with less of a heart connection. I wonder then if my ‘soul’ somehow feels more bereft for the lack of heart in my connectivity? If that’s true, then it would explain why a sense of self diminishes and vulnerability shows up… And that is worrying as darker nights draw in, curfews and restrictions tighten and those who have struggled most feel more isolated. My coach challenges me regularly about self-care and of course my ability to care for self will be inhibited or will flourish dependent upon how I think about, and plan for, changing seasons and changeable times.

So, compassion … it’s our duty as a leader to show it, to role model it, to ask it of others for everyone. To be gentle and give the benefit of the doubt.

Don’t get me wrong, there are folk who are completely thriving in these working from home, lockdown times, and if you are one of those lucky ones reading this celebrate that fully and, potentially also, make it a mission to help others not coping quite so well!

If you’re a leader, especially if you are not coping so well yourself – share your vulnerability – make it visible for your teams so they are able to normalise their own situations. Help them create boundaries of home and work, help them to establish healthy patterns - logging in and out times, taking exercise, eating well and healthily. In doing this you will remind yourself of the importance of these too. Instead of another Zoom call how about taking a walk and changing it to a group phone call? This is one clear demonstration of compassion – for self and others.

And it’s important because, after all, this is not going away quickly and how we’ve been engaging virtually, is largely unsustainable. 

What other ways can compassion show up? We would love to hear your thoughts …

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Posted on Thu, October 08, 2020 in Leadership Organisational Development Personal Development
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