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Leadership is a complicated, widely discussed topic. Having spent more than three decades in organizational leadership as an entrepreneur, national practice management consultant and business administrator, I’ve learned from both positive and negative positional leadership.

I’ve found the energetics within organizational leadership to be a critical factor for sustaining growth and profitability. The practice of “compassionate leadership” — a blend of inner- and outer-world attention, care, discipline and balanced skepticism — can result in building enduring organizations and lasting success. It is a process grounded in principles and practices.

Compassionate Leadership: Defined

1. Consciousness and presence can help accelerate and intensify your resourcefulness in the now, expand your discernment capacity, minimize distractions and provide more clarity of choice for what comes next. By deliberately focusing on what’s happening from the inside out, the leader has an opportunity to respond from a state of mindfulness.

Application: Try practicing deep, conscious breathing exercises. Doing so can help you relax, calm your emotions and lower your stress levels, among other benefits. This can be a powerful tool to combat daily stressors and distractions that inhibit our ability to be present.

2. Knowledge involves the facts, data and familiarity of a situation, which can then be applied to an impending challenge. I believe knowledge frames where we are now, provides clarity on how to shift direction and accomplishes the things that need to be done in the most efficient and effective way possible. Curiosity, consciousness and presence put ideas on the whiteboard. Knowledge is where the rubber meets the road and actualizes the vision.

Application: Information alone does not lead to enlightenment. Knowledge is acquired over time as we take action toward our goals. Sometimes the outcome will not reflect the expectation, so explore the gap between the outcome and the expectation, and remain willing to take action again and again.

3. Understanding is an expansive, perceptive capacity. In my opinion, it is centered and patient; it involves not trying to change or decrease emotions, but rather increase awareness, acknowledge feelings, decrease reactivity and promote conscious, goal-directed behavior. This is where leaders can rise above their personal agendas and reach into the hearts of their teams. Understanding is a quality that allows leaders to walk alongside their staff; equip and encourage them to overcome their fears, hesitations and perceived limitations; and help them exceed goals they never knew they could achieve.

Application: Practice patience and curiosity. In my experience, a patient leader who is willing to listen and attend to their team builds rapport and trust. People follow leaders they trust.

4. Action remains a dynamic process that does not have a stop or start date. Rather, I believe compassionate leaders condition themselves to be in a continuous state of creation and restoration, but only after the other essential disciplines of consciousness and presence, knowledge and understanding have been accomplished. Any leader can act; compassionate leaders know the inner action defines and frames the effectiveness of the interaction. As a result, they choose to act from a mindful place to sustain the well-being of the organization and their people.

Application: The next time you find yourself stuck, criticizing or pointing the finger, stop; be still, and notice how that feels. Meet that feeling with a strong dose of kindness and curiosity, and notice a shift in perspective. In my experience, this degree of spaciousness sends stale solutions to the grave and gives way for expanded awareness, choices and new opportunities.

Compassionate Leadership: Results

Because of what I’ve learned and experienced within the context of compassionate leadership, I’ve been able to change my life and career. I wholeheartedly believe in its philosophy and results, and I also strive to embody it. I feel compassionate leadership is the best model for substantive, long-term change that starts from within the leader, moves through the organization and flourishes well beyond the company. Not only does it build dynamic leaders — and those they lead — into caring, well-rounded and active agents of positive change, but it also has the potential to effectively transform a company by enabling it to reach its full potential, productivity and profitability.


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