“Wisdom without compassion is ruthlessness,

and compassion without wisdom is folly.”

-Fred Kofman, author of Conscious Business

After listening to the CBS morning show’s interview with LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, I have become inspired by his management style.  He calls his management principle “Compassionate management” and he is wildly successful.

What amuses me is that if I had talked about this principle when I began speaking to businesses in 1982, I believe I would have had rotten tomatoes thrown at me.

“Compassion” would have been too “soft” to refer to.  Back then, the top-down, command-and-control style of management was touted.  But, the world has changed, as have the needs of the individual.

Workers now manage themselves to reach the company goals.  Teams are self-directed.  There is more freedom and more responsibility for our own actions and choices.

In order to understand the principle of Compassionate Management, one must also draw a distinction between “compassion” and “empathy.”  Being empathetic, like mindfulness, has become the rage.  The simple definition of empathy is ‘feeling that you understand and share another person’s experiences and emotions; the ability to share someone else’s feelings.”

While being empathetic is extremely important in both our mindset and our communication, it misses the mark.  Exceptional relationships require more.  They require compassion.

Jeff Weiner learned the difference through reading “The Art of Happiness,” the teaching of the Dalai Lama, as told to author Howard Cutler:  “I learned the difference between compassion, defined as walking a mile in another person’s shoes, and empathy, which is feeling what another person feels.”

As the Dalai Lama explains, if you are walking along a trail and come along a person who is being crushed by a boulder, an empathetic reaction would result in you feeling the same sense of crushing suffocation and render you unable to help.

He continues, “The compassionate reaction would put you in the sufferer’s shoes, thinking this person must be experiencing horrible pain so you’re going to do everything in your power to remove the boulder and alleviate their suffering.”

I have coached my clients for years that – in order to grow – you need to choose to become aware of your thinking and to realize that most of your judgments come from the models of how you believe people should act and the world should work.  Sometimes those judgments are flawed.  Mental and emotional growth takes hold when you accept that your paradigm is often colored by fear and – in order to clear the lens of negative or harmful judgement – you must examine your thoughts.

Become a spectator of your own thoughts. 

 When you are frustrated or angry with the actions of others, consider looking at the world through their eyes.  Consider that their point of view may be a fear-based point of view.  Take a breath, get past your knee-jerk defensive or frustrated reaction, and ask some questions:

– Is this person fearful of failure, or, maybe even success?

– Does this person have the knowledge, experience, tools and support to complete the task at hand?

– Is this induvial absolutely clear on what is being asked of him or her?

-Is this person caught up in the mindset of competition and winning at all costs or, is this individual trying to achieve a shared sense of purpose?

-Is there something going on in this person’s personal life that is creating a barrier to successful performance?

I am sure that with a little thought, you can come up with a set of questions to ask yourself, your co-workers, friends and family members to help them soar.

Break out of the vicious cycle of judgement, become a spectator of your own thoughts and become a successful, compassionate manager of your life.