Most of us are familiar with the concept of compassion and how it is a valuable tool for a leader. Compassion is ‘a sensitivity to suffering in self and others with a commitment to try to alleviate and prevent it’ (Wasylyshyn & Masterpasqua, 2018).
While compassion toward others is almost universally accepted as a positive trait in leaders, being compassionate to oneself is often associated with negative connotations, sometimes seen as being self-indulgent or as leading to complacency and lack of productivity and achievement (Wasylyshyn & Masterpasqua, 2018).
Recent research reveals just the opposite: Higher self-compassion is related to an array of positive mental health and achievement-related outcomes including
Self-compassion can help leaders because it helps them see failure as a learning opportunity and to focus on accomplishing tasks at hand. Often leaders who lack self-compassion will try to enhance their self-image through demonstrating their superiority to others, which we know is not a characteristic of a great leader. Self-compassion also helps leaders become more compassionate to those around them (Wasylyshyn & Masterpasqua, 2018).
Self-compassion is a leadership asset for managing unnecessarily harsh self-criticism, promoting business success, and influencing greater employee engagement (Wasylyshyn & Masterpasqua, 2018). Self-compassion reminds leaders of their common humanity and relieves them of their inner shame and emotional tension when things go badly (Wasylyshyn & Masterpasqua, 2018).
Task: Self-Compassion break by Dr. Kirstin Neff, PhD
Think of a situation in your life that is difficult, that is causing you stress. Call the situation to mind, and see if you can actually feel the stress and emotional discomfort in your body. Now, say to yourself:
1. This is a moment of suffering. That’s mindfulness. Other options include:
Say to yourself:
3. May I be kind to myself
You can also ask yourself, “What do I need to hear right now to express kindness to myself?” Is there a phrase that speaks to you in your particular situation, such as:
Neff, K. (2015, December 13). Exercise 2: Self-Compassion Break: Kristin Neff. Retrieved June 17, 2020, from https://self-compassion.org/exercise-2-self-compassion-break/
Wasylyshyn, K. M., & Masterpasqua, F. (2018). Developing self-compassion in leadership development coaching: A practice model and case study analysis. International Coaching Psychology Review, 13(1), 21-34.