Leading with Compassion

Date Posted:Thu, 17th Mar 2022

Leading with Compassion

Monica Mathijs Co-Founder & COO of Reach Outstanding, Discusses Compassion in the Workplace


What does being compassionate at work mean for you?

The events of 2019 accelerated the need for different types of leadership. Prior to the pandemic, elements of compassionate leadership were getting much focus, with terms such empathy, emotional intelligence and awareness becoming more common within the workplace.

As leaders and individuals, our behaviours at work impact the experiences others have. If a bad start to the day is projected onto others, this can have a negative ripple effect.

According to Joyce E. A. Russell,

“Positive leadership has been shown to have a beneficial impact on the satisfaction, engagement, and performance of individuals, teams, and organizations.”


The pandemic has shifted every aspect of an organisation, from homeworking, hybrid working, co-locating, digital leadership all the way through to the mass resignation. We were faced by an unexpected global event which not only rocked our personal lives but the hearts of organisations.

Suddenly the playing field became aligned, staying at home, doing our own cleaning to dealing with home study, it was such experiences which made organisations realise that new ways to treat their people were needed. We realised that employees were struggling and that we were also struggling; this triggered the need for organisations to think differently and apply elements of a compassionate mindset.

Compassionate leadership is about connecting to people and situations from a place of care and concern. It means showing self-compassion and compassion to others which is turn creates a sense of belonging.

Studies show the benefits of adopting such a leadership style include:

“Compassion is the quality of having positive intentions and real concern for others. Compassion in leadership creates stronger connections between people. It improves collaboration, raises levels of trust, and enhances loyalty. In addition, studies find that compassionate leaders are perceived as stronger and more competent.” (https://hbr.org/2020/12/compassionate-leadership-is-necessary-but-not-sufficient)

Three ways to become more compassionate:

1. Build your own emotional intelligence
Cultivating emotional intelligence is a skill which builds connections with others. Try to take each situation based on the scenario you are in, this means, that if the day started badly or the previous meeting was frustrating, each new situation is treated as it is, not based on the past events.

2. Demonstrate empathy
Adopting an empathic mindset is a way to look at the world through the eyes of others. When we put ourselves in the shoes of others, we understand what they are going through and can respond from that place of awareness and with compassion. Using language which demonstrates you are showing empathy shows others that you are recognising where they are coming from.

3. Nurture your own needs
As humans, we are made up of different elements and being able to practice self-care and hone various aspects of who we are becomes important. When a leader is compassionate towards themselves, they will demonstrate that to others since it starts with the individual.

Looking at the various Qs below and applying them consciously in our own lives can have a positive impact. I like the following method as it looks at four core areas:

IQ = Intellectual quotient – doing things which grow your mind
EQ = Emotional quotient – doing things you love
SQ - Spiritual quotient – doing things which nurture your spiritual side
PQ – Physical quotient – doing things which support you physically

When a leader truly leads for the purpose of their people, amazing things happen to them, others and their businesses. In the words of Richard Branson

“If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”

Monica & Philippe are the co-founders of Reach Outstanding which has a purpose to create a ripple effect on the world through coaching and training.

If you would like to learn more about Reach Outstanding, please contact Monica and Phillippe via email or phone: +971 58 518 6257