Leadership Spotlight

Value of Compassion

Stock image of a woman listening closely to another person.

“You must not hate those who do wrong or harmful things; but, with compassion you must do what you can to stop them—for they are harming themselves, as well as those who suffer from their actions.”

-Dalai Lama XIV1

Do you ever turn on the news and think, What is wrong with the world today? Negativity, violence, and chaos are depicted as flourishing everywhere. Why, you ask? News sells…better yet, bad news sells. Happiness is not popular or sexy. Compassion is overrated—or, is it?

Compassion sets us apart from the rest of the natural world. The ability to be caring, empathetic, and compassionate is a wonderful characteristic about being human. Often, we forget to exercise this simple concept because we have become jaded by things we see and experience each day. Refocusing leadership efforts on compassion can lead to long-term profitable results.

Actively practicing compassionate behavior as a leadership competency fosters a culture that values the needs or wants of the group above those of the individual. Creating and promoting an environment that values compassion has many positive side effects that benefit the organization and society as a whole.

Practitioners of compassion tend to have better health, create positive organizational and societal behaviors, and increase an overall sense of satisfaction and happiness in the people who surround them. Those benefits become amplified when agency leaders at all levels practice compassion as a core value.

So, what does all this mean for you as a leader? You need to show that you care, be there for your people in good times and bad, and model compassion. Common sense dictates that you will see a change in the way your organization operates. You must do your job well and keep the well-being of your people at the forefront of each decision you make. This may sound like something you already know, but stop and reflect for a moment. Pressures, negative information, and limited resources may have influenced your ability to show compassion. If that is true for you, refocus your efforts. Remember that compassion separates effective leaders from animals.

Beth Coleman, an instructor in the Leadership and Communications Unit at the FBI Academy, prepared this Leadership Spotlight.


Dalai Lama Quotes, accessed July 14, 2015, http://www.dalailamaquotes.org/you-must-not-hate-those-who-do-wrong-or-harmful-things-but-with-compassion-you-must-do-what-you-can-to-stop-them-for-they-are-harming-themselves-as-well-as-those-who-suffer-from/.