I bet you’ve heard this before: empathy > sympathy.
Well, I’m here to do you one better: compassion > empathy.
Leading research finds that compassion is even more powerful than empathy as a leadership tool, and offers impressive benefits for both the giver and receiver.
Compassion is also critical for you to become an Accomplice – the third aspect of the Ally-Advocate-Accomplish framework I outline in my book, keynotes, and forthcoming new course – more on that in a minute!
To be clear, empathy is still a worthy skill to develop. It allows us to relate to the suffering of others and understand people’s perspectives, even when we may not agree.
But empathy doesn’t hold a candle to compassion in terms of health benefits, leadership skills, and business ROI (return on impact) – not to mention cultivating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace of advocates and accomplices.
So let’s break it down: Compassion is more than understanding another's suffering. Etymologically, “compassion” means to “suffer with”. Compassion is believing that if one suffers we ALL suffer, and taking action to alleviate that suffering.
Compassion is a “super-emotion.” I’ll explain why in a sec, but first:
Why should you practice compassion as a leader?
Before the word accomplice was associated with Bonnie and Clyde, it meant “to be folded in with.” I love that. And you can see how that meaning aligns with to suffer with.
Here’s a taste of the positive outcomes of compassionate leadership that research has quantified. I’m talking:
Improved team morale and interpersonal relationships, as well as
Increased work productivity and performance
Compassion’s impact doesn’t end there. Remember how I mentioned health benefits? Well, a study from the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology found that regularly practicing compassion offers the following health advantages:
Lowered blood pressure, heart rate, and cortisol (the “stress hormone”), and
Increased energy and a sense of happiness, and even
Talk about a super-emotion! Compassion is more than some nice-to-have personality trait. It’s essential. We literally thrive when we help others to thrive.
Here’s some great news: you can develop that sh*t. That’s right folx, compassion is a skill you can develop!
That’s where my forthcoming course comes in. Soon, I’ll be announcing enrollment for The Allyship Challenge Course, which will teach leaders, managers, and individual contributors how to move from ally to advocate to accomplice, while developing greater compassion along the way.
You can thank me when your talent retention improves, your team’s productivity and harmony increases, and you live to the ripe old age of 102 😉.
Stay tuned for email updates, which will have all the details about the course. For now, think about this: diversity, equity and inclusion work is active. Compassion is active. Being an accomplice is active.
What’s one active thing you can do today to show compassion to someone you know? Hit reply and let me know. I love hearing from you!
P.S. If you yearn for a concrete guide, an actionable something you can do this week, my book The Allyship Challenge teaches you how to evoke justice in the context of the workplace.