Compassionate Leadership Starts with Self Compassion

By Carl Sanders-Edwards

Jun 05

This weeks insight: Wanda’s Wisdom

New Zealand leadership has been propelled into the spotlight over the past few months in the aftermath of the March 15th Terrorist Attack on the Christchurch Mosques… An act that generated an uprising of love in New Zealand and widespread support for a group of people who in our country were not safe going about their daily lives and whom were victims of hate and white supremacy. 

The strong and unprecedented compassionate and empathetic leadership of our Prime Minister has been celebrated around the world as the type of leadership required in our modern world.

Similarly, Jeff Wiener, CEO of Linkedin speaks of compassionate leadership as its organisations bedrock and key to the ongoing success of Linkedin and its people, he also believes that it is the key to positive change in our world.  He explains to be able to put yourself in the shoes of others, understand them as people, know their hopes and dreams, their strengths and their weaknesses, what they are fearful of and what motivates them allows you to lead them compassionately.  When you lead compassionately you will bring out the best in individuals, in their performance ,and enhance their own and their families lives.  He believes that the heart and soul of an organisation is the connection between its people.
He also shares, in order to be a compassionate leader you must first get the fundamentals of your own hierarchy needs (self-leadership) right including starting with eating well, sleeping well, and working out regularly (mirroring what Carl and Nick shared about our virtuous cycles) and building up from there. 

The insight I want to share builds on this (and is something that made a big impact on me personally) comes from one of our partners from Simmons University, Susan Brady.  In her new book ‘Mastering your Inner Critic‘ she shares, to be compassionate with others we first be compassionate with ourselves.  To be compassionate with ourselves we must become a spectator to our own thoughts, master our own ‘inner critic’, and recognise the fear based response it generates.  This requires us to step outside of ourselves, get curious, be mindful of our well worn external and internal triggers, and self aware of how we are behaving towards ourselves and others.  Our Coach vs Critic tool aligns nicely with this concept.

So, are we speaking to ourselves in a way that is kind and loving to ourselves and coming from ‘enoughness’ or are we mostly acting out of fear and listening to the sometimes loud ‘inner critic’ in our head?  Most importantly what external forces bounces us between the two on a day to day moment to moment basis?

How can we and our participants implement more compassion in our daily lives and moment to moment:
n really simple terms, I understand that it is first and foremost a practice of compassion and most people are not in a place of compassionate centre 100% of the time.  For me it is about firstly embracing the belief that you are enough and others are enough too, the belief that we are no better or no worse than any other human being.  We are doing our best and others are just doing their best too.  

In the moment, it is the skill of recognising when you are triggered out of that compassionate place into a critical or judgemental mindset of self and others and pushing pause before you act or react and which can show up as grandiose or ‘less than’ type behaviours and thoughts which has less than desirable impacts on yourself and others.Once you have pushed pause, you can reconnect with your ‘compassionate centre’ using an affirmation or a ritual and choose your response from a place of compassion for yourselves and others. Personally I have found it works really well when I get it right (work in progress) and profoundly changes the way I feel and act.

Thanks for reading! Wanda@JumpShift.

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