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The search for compassionate leadership

Cegos Team

The Pandemic. The Great Resignation. Quiet Quitting. All these recent phenomena have had a huge impact on leaders. While leadership may not be solely to blame for increases in staff turnover, leadership styles have been the root cause in many cases.

So, is it time for more compassionate leadership? In the fourth episode of our podcast The Leadership Adventure, host Olga Dudko talks to Ricardo Martins, CEO of Cegos Portugal. With over 20 years’ experience leading diverse teams, Ricardo has some wise words to offer.

But what exactly is compassionate leadership?

“Leaders face difficult decisions all the time,” says Ricardo. “Compassionate leadership is all about how to do hard things in ways that are more humane.

It is not, asserts Ricardo, an either/or situation. In other words, “being either everyone’s friend or the monster.”

Intentions are just not enough

Good intentions to become a compassionate leader is not enough. It is important to actually take action and (positively) impact others.

“When you have a culture that promotes collaboration and team spirit, a lot of the hard work is already done." says Ricardo. But you have to walk the talk, show the way and give people reasons to recognise and trust you. Some managers don’t have time for recognition, but they always seem to find time when things are failing.”

Sometimes, it takes a simple ‘thank you’ or a positive comment to recognise a job well done. That takes seconds – much less time than dealing with the fallout from a demotivated team.

Dangers of too much empathy

At the end of the day, leaders still have to make difficult decisions.

“Compassionate leadership can be crippling, so you need to have some distance,” says Ricardo. “I had to experience the downsizing a company and had difficulty sleeping. I had to fire people I considered friends. The key is to have rational empathy and take decisions in a way that people can understand.”

Self-care for leaders is an important part of compassionate leadership. After all, leaders are human, too.

“Behind many problems are difficulties with leaders themselves,” says Ricardo.

It is crucial, therefore, that leaders give themselves space to make mistakes and learn from them, just as they do with their teams. Leaders must recognise that they may need emotional support, too, so they can maintain a positive attitude and remain compassionate.

Looking to the future

The need for leaders with more of a human touch will only increase over time, Ricardo believes. While AI promises a lot, the need for authentic human connection will mean leaders still have a part to play.

And what about tips for those leaders who want to become more compassionate? Where do they start?

If you’d like to know that, listen to the podcast to find out.

Episode 4 of The Leadership Adventure: Compassionate Leadership – is available wherever you get your podcasts. Or click below to listen to it.

Discover or rediscover the other episodes of the Leadership Adventure podcasts

Written by

Cegos Team

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