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Compassionate Leadership

Mindfull people sitting in cough

What is

As a leader, how do you care for your people but still do the hard things that leadership demands? Many think this is a binary choice, but making tough decisions and being human are not mutually exclusive.

In truth, they are aligned: doing hard things is often the most human thing to do. The ability to combine these two seeming opposites comes down to one thing: Wise Compassion. 

Wisdom is the courage to be transparent with others and to do what needs to be done, even when it is uncomfortable.

Compassion is to feel care and empathy for another person, combined with an intention to support and help.

The Wise
Compassion Matrix

Compare the Wise Compassion leadership style to three other common leadership styles.

potential project matrix of wise compassion

The Benefits of
Wise Compassion

Leaders are the single biggest contributor to how employees experience work, especially post pandemic.

Employees with leaders who show either wisdom or compassion have net positive experiences. They enjoy and are engaged with their jobs and are less likely to burn out.

But, when a leader demonstrates both wisdom and compassion, the impact on employee wellness and productivity is exponential.

benefits of compassion in leadership

Developing Wise Compassion

Our research shows that there are four skill sets needed for a leader to operate compassionately when doing hard things:

Caring Presence, Caring Courage, Caring Candor, and Caring Transparency.

When practiced in this order, these four skills can create a virtuous cycle that we call the Wise Compassion Flywheel.

1. Caring Presence

2. Caring Courage

3. Caring Candor

4. Caring Transparency

Go Deeper on the Topic

Compassionate Leadership: How to Do Hard Things in a Human Way

In this powerful and practical new book, Rasmus Hougaard and Jacqueline Carter make the case that leaders must always balance caring for their people with leadership wisdom and effectiveness. When leaders bring the right balance of compassion and wisdom, they foster much higher levels of employee engagement, performance, loyalty, and well-being for their people.

compassionate leadership book cover

The Mantras of Compassionate Leadership

Each chapter of the book is based on an important mantra used to help cultivate wise compassionate leadership. As a companion guide to the new book, we offer a series of Mantra Worksheets that are available for download.

How We Can Help

Want to Learn More?

Book a Masterclass with the Authors

Our experts introduce senior teams to the concepts of compassionate leadership through an in-house masterclass. We distill the findings from our in-depth research, explain the wise compassion matrix and the benefits of leading from the top right quadrant, and review the critical leadership attributes of courage, candor, presence, and transparency.

  • For: 10-20 Executives
  • Duration: 30-45 minutes

Ready to Get Going?

Schedule a Jumpstart Session

Our experts and experienced facilitators guide a senior team through the journey of how to do hard things in a human way. Through case studies and guided practices, the group experiences compassionate leadership in practice. The session includes an in-depth review of the wise compassionate flywheel with micropractices and practical tips for turning these critical attributes into everyday habits.

  • For: Unlimited participants
  • Duration: 60 minutes
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Thank you so much for your time. I hope you could see the level of interest and engagement the team has as it relates to compassionate leadership and your research.  They definitely wished we were spending multiple hours on this topic!

Francine Katsoudas, Chief Human Resources Officer, Cisco