Route to compassionate leadership

Firms with a culture of compassion achieve above average profits1. Leaders who act compassionately seek to alleviate the suffering of the people around them2. Compassionate workplaces are satisfying3. Compassion rocks … or does it?

Novice leaders can confuse compassion with accepting unwholesome behaviour. It may be comfortable to let such behaviour go but its certainly not kind. Given we live in an interconnected society allowing unsuitable behaviours to go unchallenged can be damaging to a person’s prospects.

So what to do? Ask questions.

  1. When I’ve exhibited this behaviour (missed deadline, worked half heartedly, spoke in anger, showed petulance etc) what caused it? How did I feel at the time? How did I feel and act in the days afterwards?
  2. What don’t I know about the situation and about this team member that I need to?
  3. Who has suffered damage by this behaviour – including me? What is the damage? On what facts do I base this opinion?
  4. If repeated, could this behaviour impede this team member’s ability to achieve personal, career and lifestyle goals? How?
  5. Then decide if action is needed.

Compassion builds trust and resilience. It’s a vital leadership tool.

Novice leaders extend compassion to others.

Experienced leaders know that to be sustainable, compassion goes first to themselves.


  1. Murray, B., & Fortinberry, A. (2013). The new capitalism: The greater the compassion, the greater the profit. Effective Executive, 16(2), 43-50. Retrieved from
  3. Murray, B., & Fortinberry, A. (2013). Ibid


Some earlier posts:

–> If only

–> Darwin’s theories apply to business too

–> The problems with labels

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