The 7Cs Of Compassionate Leadership: Start Here

originally published at

Conversations at work.

Compassionate Leaders care about their stakeholders, themselves and the world they will leave behind. It is not an easy pursuit and it takes great self-awareness to achieve it, but the approach will lead to personal and professional gains. Here are some highlights of recent studies related to compassion that build the case for compassion:

  • Companies with purpose & corporate social responsibility outperform S&P 500 peers by 8X *
  • 88% of millennials look for employers with corporate social responsibility values *
  • Compassion positively impacts productivity, employee and customer retention, profitability, and financial performance **
  • Compassion supports strategic advantage in innovation, service quality, collaboration, retaining talented people, employee and customer engagement, and adaptability to change **
  • 91% of leaders surveyed say compassion is very important for leadership and 80% say they want to enhance their compassion but don’t know how ***

       * Deloitte: The Rise of Social Enterprise, 2018

       ** Awakening Compassion at Work: The Quiet Power that Elevates People and Organizations by Monica C. Worline and Jane E. Dutton, 2017

       *** Harvard Business Review: Power Can Corrupt Leaders, Compassion Can Save Them, February 2018

The trend of studying compassion at work and integrating it into a culture will make a great impact on stakeholder satisfaction as becomes more commonplace. Here are the primary research hypotheses for a current program and research partnership regarding compassionate leadership we began early this year with the SC Johnson School of Management at Cornell University, based on existing trends and studies:

  • Everyone is a leader
  • Compassion fuels positive change
  • Purpose-driven leaders and organizations outperform others
  • Learning and performance are maximized when you integrate curriculum, coaching and contemplative practices

Often people like the idea of compassionate leadership they find in media but wonder how to employ the concepts into their own professional development. To that end, I have developed the seven core attributes of compassionate leaders or the 7Cs as a place to begin. As you review the list, think about how you are doing with each concept.  Choose your top attribute and another that you need to develop. (It may be tempting to think about other people when you are reviewing the list but do your best to be self-reflective.)

Based on this reflection think of one way you can leverage your strength and one way you can address your challenge in the next week. For example, if being contemplative is natural for you, take a long walk to sort out a business problem and if being civil is challenging, see if you can muster up more patience this week. Write these ideas down and look at them every day for seven days.

Congratulations, you are on your way to being a more compassionate leader!