Compassion@Work: Leadership

                                            By Vanessa F. Hurst

Servant. Compassionate. Contemplative. These descriptors represent a leader who co-creates and co-innovates within a compassion-centric organization. This person is a fully functioning, integrated member of the team; not someone with a laissez-faire approach who supervises from afar. Fully aware of group dynamics, they develop strong relationships and encourages the same of others.

pole-1149771_1920The leader lives within four core relationships — with the self, the sacred, others, and all of creation. (Note: although sacred might be represented by a deity, this is not the intent of this article. The sacred is manifest in those things we hold in deep reverence or what we find extraordinary in our lives.)

Relationship with self — Within this relationship, the leader truly knows who s/he is. Through reflection and introspection, they seek to understand how judgments and beliefs inform words and actions. This information forms the foundation of authentic interactions. All other core relationships flow from the authenticity or illusion created through the relationship with self.

Relationship with sacred — When a leader knows who they are at their center, naming what is held in great reverence is easier. In fact, with growing awareness, they are able to name the ongoing evolution of the sacred in their life. The leader might also question how the sacred is present in the people with whom they collaborate and in the culture of the organization.

Relationship with others — Knowing the self and identifying the sacred creates the foundations of strong relationships with others. Awareness of the first two relationships provides the tools to navigate through the uncharted waters of connecting with coworkers. The leader uses awareness to identify potential reactionary triggers and choose to respond with compassion. This way of responding provides a subtle model for coworkers.

Relationship with creation — Encompassing both the natural world and human creation, a leader acts with stewardship when in relationship with creation. They use resources consciously and appropriately when responding to the sacred inherent in the work environment. In this relationship, the leader may co-create in ways that lessen an organization’s impact on the earth and co-innovate in ways that repair the world.

All have the potential to be a compassionate, contemplative, servant leader. Each time we strengthen these core relationships, we are leading. When operating from these four relationships, we create and sustain safe work environment is created in which all workers are encouraged to act from their authentic selves. All are invited to be leaders. The culture of the organization strengthens within a mindful, compassionate framework.

Leading by Example,



Vanessa F. Hurst is a Community Builder who consults with organizations to strengthen stakeholder relationships and improve organizational culture.   Her program “Listen with Intent, Respond with Compassion” creates a rich, dynamic space where trust increases and understanding occurs. Through this experiential training, participants discover what prevents them from listening objectively and with an open mind.

© 2016