Is Compassion Part Of Your Leadership Strategy?

pic for compassion

Listening to a manager in one of my workshops go on and on about how her team members are self-absorbed caught my attention. She threw out the adage, “There is no I in team” and sensed everyone was taking advantage of her good nature. The more I heard, the more I realized that there was a big disconnect with her and her team. Why was she feeling all alone rowing the boat all by herself?

Creating a team where each member is accountable is very important but so is being understanding of one another’s needs. Each of us brings our unique perspective to our work worlds and sometimes leaders don’t keep an open mind or heart when it comes to seeing other people’s points of view. They don’t see the business advantage and human value of being compassionate.

Do you bring compassion into your leadership? Here are some ways to cultivate a compassionate leadership strategy: 


Since compassion means many different things to each of us, we need to know our specific definition.

  • Separate compassion from “giving in”
  • Look at compassion as a key leadership action rather than as a weakness
  • Reflect how compassion has added to your job growth
  • Write out some words that describe compassion for you


Think back to a time when someone showed you compassion. Were you struggling with a project and a co-worker stepped in to help you out? Did you need some time out of the office and your boss supported a day off? Was another department up against a deadline so you offered to roll up your sleeves and help out?

All of these scenarios can help us recognize situations where we can lead with compassion. When we realize how compassion has made a difference in our lives, we are empowered to use it to make a difference in someone else’s life.


Knowing the impact of compassion, leaders owe it to their teams and colleagues to share its value. When people show us compassion, we can point out our gratitude and willingness to pay it forward. We can also add a segment on compassionate leadership to a leadership development program. Compassion needs to be a skill taught to everyone in an organization. When we demonstrate compassion, we build a culture of trust.


Just as we recognize other leadership performance, we can reward our team members and leaders with “Excellence in Compassion”. Send out an email with the story of how an individual displayed extraordinary compassion in a particularly difficult situation. These anecdotes become part of a company’s brand and perpetuate the value of compassion.


A wonderful benefit of showing compassion is growing stronger relationships. The manager in my original example knew that she needed to be more compassionate with her team to help them feel part of something bigger than themselves. Instead of looking at the team members as selfish, she decided to adjust her thinking and be more understanding of their challenges and frustrations. In that way, she became more human too.

How do you bring compassion to your leadership strategy?

6 thoughts on “Is Compassion Part Of Your Leadership Strategy?

  1. What a great exercise—think back to a time when someone showed you compassion! It’s a great way to link specific behavior to specific results. What compassion looks and sounds like may differ from person to person, but what it feels like is the same to all…

  2. When we think about how compassionate people have impacted our life, we are able to look at the behaviors that display being compassionate. But all of us need to show people that their challenges are important to us, even if the struggles seem different from our own. Modeling compassion is contagious and is an important quality for all leaders to possess. Compassion leads to trust and meaningful relationships.

    Thanks LaRae for your support!

  3. When I read your suggestion to reward and recognize “Excellence in Compassion” and even send out a message to the team, I immediately thought about the culture of that team – incredible. My next thought was, I’ve never worked for a leader who would do that. Sad.

    It’s my hope that your readers who have never seen this done before will take your advice and instead of just thinking it sounds great – implement.

    I’m also a big fan of self-compassion… when we give something new a go, we can often be our own worst critic. Self-compassion and compassion for others are critical skills for leaders to model.

    Thanks for this! Will definitely share!


  4. Self-compassion is so important too as it gives us permission to be imperfect and human. I would definitely add this to my list of important leadership qualities.

    Why compassion is so key for leaders is that it creates an environment of concern for one another in a more personal way, even if the compassion is being shared through business activities. This caring or nurturing builds connections that teams need for survival during the tough times. It really does make business sense.

    Thanks Alli for your helpful additions!

  5. Terri – I find this topic fascinating! Partially because I don’t want to imagine our world or workplaces without compassion. But the reality is that there are cultures within workplaces and in our world that see it as exactly that.

    And to your finaly point – In those cultures there is a lack of trust.

    It will take a leader that is willing to be bulnerable and go first – for compasison and trust to spread!

  6. You are so right, Chery that it is necessary for leaders to be brave and vulnerable to bring compassion into the workplace. They also must value building an environment of trust and transparency. Having said all that, a work environment without compassion is lifeless and joyless. So bring the compassion on!

    Thanks for continuing the discussion, Chery! Have a great weekend!

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