Do you want to be a leader that people trust and respect?

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Compassionate leadership is the key!

There are 5 qualities that will help you lead with compassion and gain a happier, more supportive, and more productive team.

What is Compassionate Leadership?

Compassionate leadership is the practice of using your head and heart to inspire and influence people so they can, in turn, inspire and influence others.

— Laurell Donnellan, founder of Compassionate Leaders Circle

Sounds good. But what does it actually mean?

Flaticon Icon Compassionate leaders focus on understanding, caring about, and supporting their team members.

It is a leadership style based on creating a work environment where people feel valued, respected and empowered to do their best work.

And who wouldn't want to work in a place like that?

Benefits of a Compassionate Leadership Style

An infographic of the benefits of compassionate leadership, represented by a tree (audio description below). Image created by the author using WePik. To hear an audio version of the information in the image above, click the play button on the audio player below:

Key Qualities of a Compassionate Leader

1. Empathy

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Although empathy has always been a vital leadership skill, research suggests that, in recent years, it has become the single most important one.

To be a compassionate leader, you need to be able to put yourself in your team members' shoes and understand their perspectives. This creates trust and strengthens working relationships.

2. Active Listening

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Compassionate leadership means giving a team your full attention and demonstrating a genuine interest in what they're saying.

This shows respect, but it also allows you to really understand the team's needs, concerns, and ideas.

3. Supportiveness

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It's important to encourage and assist team members in achieving their goals and overcoming challenges.

Compassionate leaders provide guidance, resources, and feedback that will help a team succeed.

4. Accountability with Fairness

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Compassionate leaders hold their team members (and themselves) accountable, but do it in a fair and respectful way.

Your focus should be on development and encouragement rather than on punishment.

5. Humility

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Being able to acknowledge your own limitations and mistakes while always being open to learning from others is a crucial quality for a leader. But, of course, there needs to be a balance between humility and confidence.

As a compassionate leader, you need to be smart enough to know when you don't have all the answers and seek out different perspectives.

Put It into Practice

1. Empathy

A team member is struggling to meet a deadline. Compassionate leaders acknowledge their circumstances and situation, and offer support without judgment.

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2. Active Listening

Someone who leads with compassion will avoid distractions when talking to their team. They will maintain eye contact and ask clarifying questions to fully grasp the team's opinions or concerns.

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3. Supportiveness

Knowing when to offer mentorship, how to best delegate tasks, and remembering to always celebrate individual and team achievements are key to compassionate and supportive leadership.

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4. Accountability with Fairness

A project has just been finished. A compassionate leader will give specific feedback on each team member's performance, and develop a plan for improvement. There's always room for improvement!

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5. Humility

When a compassionate leader makes a mistake, they own up to it. They will also encourage open communication and welcome input from everyone on the team because they realize that the best ideas are not always their own.

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Put It to the Test

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A team member approaches you feeling overwhelmed by their workload. They haven't mentioned it before, but you think that they may be struggling personally, too.

How can you demonstrate compassion in this situation?

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A. Offer them an immediate deadline extension.

B. Listen attentively and ask open-ended questions to understand their challenges.

C. Acknowledge their feelings and offer words of encouragement and support.

D. Delegate some of their tasks to other team members without asking.


How can you demonstrate compassion in this situation? Choose all that apply:

Take Action

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To become a more compassionate leader:


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