Leadership Series (23) Essence Of A Compassionate Leadership. By Victor A. Imhangbe

Too many leaders these days manage with the balance sheet, often times at the expense of their employees and long-term customer relationships. Talented people want to work for leaders and organisations that truly care about their employees and the communities in which they operate. According to Ray Williams, “Kindness, compassion and empathy will change toxic workplaces. Leaders in business schools, organisations and in politics are taught to lead with their heads and not with their hearts. Leaders are expected to be strategic, rational, tough, bottom-line business people who focus on results. Yet, recent research on successful leaders and the current turbulent economic and social times calls out for a different style of leader: one that exhibits kindness, compassion and empathy.

A vivid example is Jose Mourinho versus Eva Carneiro. He is a manager that command respects from his players and the players always want to give their best for immediate result, but at the long run, it is practically impossible for the same set of players to perform at the same level, then problem will set in. The incident that cause him his job at Chelsea Football Club; could have been averted if he had shown compassion on his key players that was injured, instead he decided to punished the medical staffs, the consequence is for everyone to learn from.

Driving, directive, coercive styles of leadership may move people and get results in the short-term, but the dissonance it creates is associated with toxic relationships and emotions such as anger, anxiety, and fear.

Similarly, looking at a published article in Psychology Today by Ray Williams; tilted ““Why Steve Jobs Was Not A Leader,” He opines that “Jobs’ leadership style could be characterized as the old school ‘carrot and stick’ approach, using praise and flattery, but mostly the stick of fear and criticism. When Fortune magazine profiled America’s toughest bosses, it said of Jobs, his ‘inhuman drive for perfection can burn out even the most motivated worker.’ Fortune writer, Leander Kahney claimed Jobs’ verbal assaults on staff, replete with anger and foul language, were terrifying to staff. Fortune dubbed Jobs as ‘one of Silicon Valley’s leading egomaniacs.”

Ronald Riggio, writing in Psychology Today argues that although Jobs was a visionary leader, a master marketer and presenter, he “could also be a tyrant. He was obsessively controlling, and given to fits of rage, throwing tantrums…took credit for others’ ideas…and fell short of the qualities possessed by the very best leaders.” Walter Isaacson’s best-selling biography of Jobs is a very revealing picture of both sides of Jobs’ character: the brilliant, charismatic visionary, and the impulsive, crude, and mean-spirited man. He thought nothing of parking in handicapped parking spaces, and denied the paternity of his first daughter so that she and her mother had to live on welfare. Job, like Bill Gates, was a very wealthy man, yet according to public records, made no substantial commitments to charities or worthy causes. You have got to like putting smile on people faces to be able to assist person in dire financial needs, it’s not because you are very rich, because there are people who are strikingly wealthy and yet have no reason to help people in needs through charities.

From another angle, it is usually easy to cultivate the act of giving out cash to feed homeless and hungry people if you have been homeless or deprived of food in the past. Some people felt being from a rich background is enough for someone to be compassionate. Unfortunately, some people from rich background financially; are regrettably not endow with the requisite moral and cultural values in the act of caring for less privilege people around them. They tend to focus on hard work alone. You have to be repeatedly deprived, a victim of hate, humiliated and abused over time to be able to understand what it take to love your fellow human beings.


Michelle Wright provides the following benefits of compassionate leadership:

1. Improved staff engagement and retention: Employees feel supported by leadership based on values and authenticity, which counteracts the negative affects of judgment and bias.

2. Improved self-compassion: Helping to diminish burnout, increase resilience and reduce stress in leaders. Compassionate leaders see value in encouraging, facilitating and ensuring those that they lead to have good work-life balance, whilst also engaging in such practices themselves.

3. Better working relationships between colleagues in general and improved trust: Compassionate leadership ensures better connection and collaboration with a ‘people first’ approach. Whilst it’s difficult to argue that leaders need to get results, it’s how these results are achieved that matters.

4. More adaptable and flexible leadership: With a leader in tune and able to encourage self-reflection and development and to focus on developing talent and potential. Compassionate leaders facilitate change through the relational aspects of leadership, rather than through a carrot and stick approach.

5. Encourage constant development: This relates to their own careers, as well as developing future leaders. Self-compassion opens the door for leaders to address weaknesses and to share mistakes with employees, helping leaders feel more approachable, relatable and human.

According to; Ribbi Irwin Dula, a consultant with various corporations and philanthropic institutions, addresses the controversy generated by compassion in leadership when he states, “Today, we live in a moment of division, with polarized leaders and polarized followers. What would it mean to lead with compassion? Why do we rarely think of compassion as a necessary quality of strong leadership? How would the process and content of leadership be different if compassion was a central quality?” The truth is that leadership and compassion can be partnered.

Here are some factors that bring compassion into the corporation as listed below:
• Employees Want to Be Understood.
• Employees Want to Be Treated Fairly.
• Employees Want to Be Appreciated.
• Employees Want Trust.
• Employees Want to Be Given a Second Chance.
• Employees Want to Be Heard.

Due to time and space constraint, you can read two case studies in the work of Victor M. Parachin; on Leadership with a Conscience titled: Six Ways to Lead with Compassion.

The above analyses will guild us in knowing the essence of having a compassionate leader. Our next series will discuss why a leader needs to be focus. Your opinion and feedback is appreciated on the comment column. Do you like the piece? It’s always good to share.


Victor Imhangbe

Hey, there! I am Victor Imhangbe and I am the brain behind this great lifestyle blog where you get to read everything from life to education to fashion and pretty much about everything else. I invite you to keep keeping tab on our latest news and updates!

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