How to Tell if you are a Compassionate Boss

I coach CEOs and business owners on “Becoming a Best Boss” — and a key skill is compassion.

I was asked:

“What are the ways that you can tell if you’re truly a compassionate person? What are the common traits?”

The compassionate boss is personally invested in the well being, success, and growth of each of her direct reports. But true compassion does not mean rescuing people — it means sheltering them while growing them.

  • Do you create a circle of calmness and emotional safety around you, into which your direct reports can bring their troubles, fears, failures and setbacks?
  • Do you focus first, not on making things easier for them, but on making them stronger?
  • Do you help them figure out how to process their challenges, and return to work wiser and more motivated — rather than taking their challenges away from them?
  • Do you embrace (nearly) every failure as a learning opportunity?
  • Do you give each direct a carefully modulated load of challenges that will stretch them, but not too much?
  • Do you give each of your directs the dignity of their own karma? If they persist in not learning a lesson, do you allow them to feel the pain of struggle and taste the bitterness of failure? And when their mouths are twisted with pain and bitterness, do you welcome them back into your circle of calmness and safety to reflect and learn?
  • Do you remind them, with your words and actions, how much you value them as human beings?

If so, then you are compassionate.

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