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Leading with Compassion: Why Heart-Centred Leadership Matters in Business

How often do we allow our hearts to lead us over logic that is derived from our brain?  

The answer will, of course, vary from person to person and it will also be very much dependent on the matter in hand.

It is often in our personal lives and matters that affect our emotions the most so that our hearts become the driving factor in most decisions.

Business decisions were, historically, predominantly made using logic and through business acumen, however, over the decades, the management styles of delivering business have changed.  

How is this so, why has it happened in a relatively short space of time and does it bring better results?

Even during the time that I have been working, the difference in the general leadership styles and how senior boards get the most out of their employees has changed over the decades.

One such change is leading with the heart with the effects that result in this approach often significantly better than managing from the head.

Leadership can and often mean the physical leaders who manage members of staff, however, for the purpose of this (and in the main) it means us, as individuals, leading ourselves.

If a person is too regimented or rigid in their thinking and how they ask things of themselves or others they are not likely to get the best results.  

If we lead ourselves compassionately, with an empathetic stance taken, we can often identify that we would never dream of directing other people in the way we do of ourselves at times.

Learning who we really are and the true values we hold have to be the first step in being able to truly lead from the heart.

This is no easy task and can often take decades of our lives to appreciate and accept the person we authentically are in direct contrast to who we would like to be!

Identifying our strengths and maximising on them as best we can, provided they have a positive effect on us and those around us, allows us to identify our objectives, set them more easily and undertake the challenges they present to us with less obstacles in the way to stumble on.

Leading ourselves through matters we are less confident or competent in takes even more heart led focus.

When something we face evokes a fear in us, if we approach it with a mindset that is more defeatist than go-getter or the cards are truly stacked against us, it is easy to immediately do a disservice to ourselves subconsciously or through self sabotage.

Knowing an outcome we are directly responsible for is going to be less than advantageous for us takes huge care and self-compassion to navigate, particularly for the high achievers in us.

Why would we put ourselves in a situation knowing it will feel uncomfortable for us with less favourable results likely?

Leading from the heart can help us grow as individuals through the difficulties we face by tapping in to our resilience, and we may often surprise ourselves with better than expected outcomes through the learning and self-developing opportunities afforded to us.  

It is no revelation to accept we, as humans, are complex creatures and so if we can work out, or at least try to understand, how we think, what we might feel and why we react the way we do, it sets us apart and at a direct advantage of those that choose not to.

One way to do this is through experience.

What we have gone through before gives us an immediate insight as to how we might manage a similar situation the next time.

This is first and foremost linked to an emotion rather than logic and once we recall how that situation made us feel, we can work out the patterns of behaviour that followed and what we learnt from it.

A positive outcome is likely to lead us to repeat our behaviour and if it was less so, tweaks and adaptations can be made to improve upon the previous outcome.

Experience is something that should not be underestimated and as we live our lives it becomes easier to understand what works and what doesn't, and what is 'right' and 'wrong' when it comes to leading ourselves through business matters.

Learning from others is a great way to observe quietly from the sideline.  

It can be an effective way of seeing, at first hand, how people treat themselves and others.  

It is often, sadly, how we see people treat others negatively that we catch ourselves thinking or saying that we would not want to be like them or treat people wrongly or in such a poor way.

There is much injustice that occurs around us.  We only need to be present to see hierarchies and representative bodies with a ‘who can shout the loudest’ sentiment that often wins over those that truly do right. 

It can and often happens during any stage of our lives and we are regularly reminded that we should feel ‘fortunate’ or ‘privileged’, even ‘lucky’, to have had what we had or to be able to have done what we did.

Sometimes though, just sometimes, we can say “life is unfair.”

There is a Chinese parable worth reciting in full:


Good luck, bad luck

By Jason Buckley


This is the story of an old Chinese farmer who lived many years ago.


He had one old horse that he used to plough his fields.


One day, the horse ran away into the hills.

Everyone said, ‘We are so sorry for your bad luck.’


The old man replied, ‘Bad luck, good luck, who knows?’


A week later, the horse returned with a herd of wild horses that now belonged to the old man.

Everyone said, ‘We are so happy for your good luck!’


The old man replied, ‘Good luck, bad luck, who knows?’


While his only son was riding one of the wild horses, he fell off and broke his leg.

Everyone said, ‘What bad luck!’


The old man replied, ‘Bad luck, good luck, who knows?’


One day, the army came to the village, and took all the strong young men to be

soldiers for the emperor.


Only the old farmer’s son was spared because he could not fight with a broken leg.


Everyone said, ‘What good luck!’


The old man replied, ‘Good luck, bad luck, who knows?’


The fact that whatever negative result occurred (being let go, not being selected, hear-says being heard) and despite the concrete facts of our qualifications, qualities, better results and integrity are not taken into account, it is our own faith and trust in such skewed processes that can and will lead us to open doors.  


“Good luck, bad luck, who knows?”

An empathetic person can see where they might thrive which is key in making any given situation work.  

This includes ourselves as we navigate any task, project or challenge in business and our personal lives in a compassionate way.

If we are too hard on ourselves, there is a strong possibility that the results achieved are not going to be what we desire, not only from a physical perspective but also within the relationships that we hold with those around us.   The more people I meet, I learn that self-compassion is something that is challenging for people to undertake for themselves.  


The one thing I shall always remember was what was said to me in the early days of becoming a Mum. 


With unforgettable sincerity, the experienced midwife said: “You shall be offered lots of well meaning advice and you will be told what to do with your baby. 


“Just remember that if it is good for you, it is good for your baby.”


The midwife was absolutely right.  


Whilst there are many ways of looking after a baby well, if what I did couldn’t have worked for me, it would never have worked for my daughter. 


Truly leading from our hearts can only be positive and right for what we want and what can work for us well. 


Once we start treating ourselves as we do of all others around us, the matters we face in business and our personal lives become much easier to resolve because our energy remains positive in a heart centred approach, coupled with a logical sense that can be formulated more clearly.

As we are surrounded by messages of love this month, let’s think of how we can do a little more of that from within...


If you would like to work with someone who leads with their heart as well as use theirlogic,  please get in touch with me.





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