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Janice L. Marturano Headshot

Compassion: a Fundamental of Mindful Leadership... and Life

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This post is part of an ongoing partnership between the Institute for Mindful Leadership and Huff Post as we work together to bring mindfulness to the workplace. The Institute has just opened enrollment for a number of retreats in NY and MN. More info can be found at http://instituteformindfulleadership.org/retreats/. We hope you’ll join us in 2014!

What is the role of compassion in the workplace? Very simply, it is one of the four fundamentals of leadership excellence, of mindful leadership and of living mindfully. And it can be a New Year's resolution that you can implement starting today!

Compassion at Work

Compassion can be brought into each work day through simple acts of kindness. When we choose to take a purposeful pause and offer a colleague a compliment, a word of encouragement or inquire into their well-being, we bring kindness into the workplace. And the ripple effect of kindness is limitless. A compassionate leader can transform the most challenging workplace. When a leader embodies compassion and is seen as a kind person, even his or her toughest messages are more likely to be received well. After all, when we work with someone who honestly respects, includes, and values us, it goes a long way to making us trust his or her decisions.

Being kind is not the same, however, as being polite or politically correct. Kindness comes from compassion, an authentic connection to others and the pains and joys they feel. If it does not come from the heart, it can have a disastrous effect. When someone we have a significant relationship with, like a boss or a colleague, is just going through the motions, asking "How are you?" but not really caring to stay around for an answer longer than "fine," we notice the insincerity. When we encounter that person, aloof and disconnected, we don't feel respected, included, or valued. We feel invisible.


-Excerpt from Finding the Space to Lead: A Practical Guide to Mindful Leadership



So, as we begin a new year, perhaps we can each form an intention to take a purposeful pause, to begin to understand those around us just a little bit better, and to bring small acts of kindness to our colleagues. Of course, it is our mindfulness training and our training with using a purposeful pause that allows us to bring our attention to the present moment and that creates a little space in our day. In that space, we can connect to our authentic self, and to those around us. And it is also our presence that is felt by others when we take the time to offer an act of kindness.

What kindness might you bring? If you are searching for ideas, just look at your own experiences at work. What small gesture might you like to receive once in a while? With each gesture of kindness, we remind ourselves that we are all in this together, and that we are in fact connected to one another. When we bring a little sunshine to someone's day, we all feel the light.

Just imagine what the experience of work would be like if we each began to bring a small act of kindness to those we work with each day? It may only take a few moments, and need not cost anything, so why not give it a try? The ripple effect might surprise you.

Have a Happy New Year!

Janice