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Compassion Can’t Buy Me Love! (Not in leadership, anyway!)

Updated: Jan 15, 2020

Courage, compassion and wisdom. the 3 treasures of effective leaders…

Of the three, we probably spend more workshop time on compassion than any other topic. And it’s the most misunderstood quality of leadership.

Let’s start by busting two myths about compassion…

#1 Compassion is kindness.

No. It’s not. Is that direct enough?

Kindness is one way to express compassion, but note that one of our key Strategies reads this way––on purpose:

“Be tough––yet compassionate.”

I’ve argued a number of times with people who tell me that compassion should come before being tough. I disagree. First, a leader must sometimes do and say things that hurt people, but that will be best for them.


  • A good leader has to criticize, call people to task and point out faults and misdeeds. Letting it slide does no good to the individual, the others in the area and the organization.