Compassionate Leadership

Now, more than ever before we have the need empathetic and compassionate leaders. Recent studies have shown that different to some conservative wisdom, empathetic and compassionate leaders are resilient and bold; they promote confidence and teamwork; promote security in others; and at the same time, they generate progressive outcomes.

Every day, whether in government, private or public sectors, we see the opposite of empathetic and compassionate leaders. We interact with humans who are self-absorbed, egotistical, and megalomaniac. Instead of bringing peace and clarity to our society, they bring havoc, discomfort and insecurities. This is the climate where these individuals thrive, rise and survive.

Why would we choose to lead with empathy and compassion, when every piece of our society and educational system only teaches us to lead with our heads, to be tactical, analytical, hard-hitting, money driven and only focused on results.

Although, this is all about to change. Recent research on successful leaders, mixed with the present unsettled economic and critical societal times calls out for an unlike style of leader. It calls out for leaders that are not only highly intelligent but leaders that exhibits compassion, empathy and responsiveness.

The most persuasive benefit of compassionate leadership is that creates highly effective and progressive leaders. These leaders are critical and necessary to our workforce. However, finding them or becoming one can be a process. Many compassionate leaders claim that to become a highly effective leader, one must go through a critical transformation. That is, when leaders stop focusing on their personal ego and desires, and they become ambitious but ambitious for the greater good, not for themselves.


Compassionate leaders pay attention to people and can empathize and comprehend what people are going through.  They take appropriate action for the greater good. Being a compassionate leader does not mean that you take the suffering away from people without considering the implications or taking away the risk. It means that you consider, calculate and respond with a thoughtful action. Since they are focused on the greater good, they feel no need to boost their own egos. They are ambitious for the greater good and have a personal humility to know the worth of other. But this achievement is not easy.


Compassionate leadership requires four consistent and supported factors:


  1. A perceptive or cognitive factor: “I recognize what you are going through”

  2. An emotional factor: “I can sense your emotional pain”

  3. A purpose factor: “I have the desire to help you”

  4. A we factor: “We can work on this”


According to Businessolver's research, people are more prone to accept and stay at a company that they identify to be compassionate. Customers, too, are more willing to do business with a company that they think is compassionate.

A few key results from the study:

  • Only 24% of Americans believe that organizations are empathetic versus 60% of CEOs.

  • 31% of employees believe profit is all that matters to their organization, and that their organization doesn’t care about employees.

  • 1 in 3 employees would switch companies, for equal pay, if they were more compassionate.


In a white paper distributed to the Society of Industrial Organizational Psychology Conference, William A Gentry, Todd J. Weber and Golnaz Sadri claimed “transformational leaders need empathy in order to show their followers that they care for their needs and achievement; authentic leaders also need to have empathy in order to be aware of others; and that empathy is also a key part of emotional intelligence that several researchers believe is critical to being an effective leader,” and “our results reveal that empathy is positively related to job performance. Managers who show more empathy toward direct reports are viewed as better performers in their job by their bosses.” They also concluded empathy is not a fixed trait. It can be learned. Leaders can develop and enhance their empathy skills through coaching, training, or developmental opportunities and initiatives” (Williams, 20160).