Leaders come and go, but the ones that make the most profound difference are those that lead with a compassionate heart. Although genuine, proactive compassion ideally begins in childhood, adult leaders may tap into their compassionate hearts with the skilled support of a compassion-focused Leadership Coach.

For many beginning leaders, those compassionate hearts may have remained dormant as achievement and accomplishments become the priority in the work world. Simply telling leaders that being compassionate is important is not enough. Coaching leaders early in their career can lead to greater growth and influence.

Actionable Empathy Begins with Immersion

Actions speak louder than words, especially when instilling core values; so coaching compassion needs a hands-on approach. According to education website ThoughtCo, this method is essential for adult learners as they are more likely to retain learnings from first-hand experiences. However, rather than just relying on a series of training sessions, the task of immersive coaching compassion must be reflected in daily interactions. This means practicing empathy in casual and professional settings outside the coaching context.

Depending on the resources of the young leader, they can immerse in a variety of compassion-instilling activities inside and outside of their homes. For adults, business outlet The Balance suggests volunteering as a means to gain confidence, network with others, and develop emotional stability. For young adults, SymptomFind suggests beginning an emotion journal. Aside from helping them process what they experience, it’s also an outlet for their own concerns that may otherwise preoccupy their minds away from compassion.

Coaches Walk the Talk

Of course, compassion is caught and not taught, so Coaches also serve as models for empathy. Just as the University of California at Davis reveals that children are more likely to become compassionate adults if they’re raised by parents who regularly display this particular trait, a similar trend can be noted in adulthood. According to 88% of adults, mentors and educators have impacted their lives more than friends. Some ways that Coaches influence compassion is by acknowledging positive actions, and getting involved with pro bono service to underserved communities. Because access to professional coaching is limited, as discussed here on the ICF Foundation, giving your expertise to the cause teaches your mentees to pay it forward and be aware of the needs of others.

As Nelson Mandela said, “A fundamental concern for others in our individual and community lives would go a long way in making the world the better place we so passionately dreamt of.” So, if we wish to see a brighter tomorrow rooted in care, we must invest in planting the right empathetic traits in our young leaders.

Anna Eleanor is the pen name for a teacher and blogger who writes on a variety of topics. For her, the efforts and energies we put out into the world inevitably come back to influence our overall health and well-being. When she’s not researching new ways to help her children and adult students stay healthy, she spends her time meditating, or caring for her urban rooftop herb garden.

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