Leadership in action: A roadmap to compassionate leadership

As an early-career communications professional, my understanding of leadership was that I must uphold the housing, health and social care sector's values and standards in communication practices and help lead communication efforts to showcase good work being done.

However, shortly before applying to Housing LIN's Future Leaders programme, I read an insightful article (opens new window) published by The King's Fund on the four behaviours of compassionate leadership: Attending, Understanding, Empathising and Helping. This got me thinking about how leadership is not merely about possessing all the answers and telling people what to do but rather involves actively listening to those around you and engaging in collaborative efforts to find solutions.

I had therefore hoped that by enrolling in the programme I would gain practical insights into these four behaviours and looked forward to hearing from people at similar stages in their career, especially those who may not have had the opportunity yet to apply these behaviours themselves.

The line-up of guest speakers throughout the programme did not disappoint! In fact, I was particularly fortunate as they all reflected on the four behaviours of compassionate leadership through their personal stories and valuable advice. For example, Professor Roy Sandbach OBE (Chair of the TAPPI Inquiry) described ‘Attending’ as leading with collaboration at the core by developing the ability to listen, maintain curiosity and adapt as necessary.

Another guest speaker, Kay Allen OBE (founder of Age Irrelevance and Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Coach), shared a powerful story, illustrating the importance of adaptability. When faced with the need to delve deeply into understanding the challenges people encounter, Kay embraced this opportunity for growth. This ultimately steered her towards a new and successful path in her career, demonstrating the benefits of behaviour number two, ‘Understanding’.

The third behaviour, 'Empathising,' was passionately highlighted by Maxine Espley MBE (Chief Operating Officer at Green Square Accord) and Lawrence Cramer (People & Culture Director at Inspired Villages). They understood the importance of navigating not just leader-to-employee relationships, but also human-to-human relationships too. Openness, transparency and empathy became invaluable tools that enabled them to create meaningful connections in this context.

And finally, I was thrilled to listen to Richard Humphries (Visiting Professor at the University of Worcester and Senior Advisor). He emphasised the critical importance in the social care sector, particularly in times of crisis or uncertainty, of taking thoughtful and intelligent action to support those around you. This confirmed to me the fourth and final behaviour, ‘Helping’, as a critical component of compassionate leadership.

So, now I’ve finished the programme, I’ve learned that leadership is not about title or position; it's about influence, impact and inspiration. By embodying these four behaviours, even as a junior member of the team, you can contribute significantly to your role as a leader in this sector.

Sally's blog is one of 9 from the 3rd cohort of the Housing LIN’s Future Leaders Programme that we are publishing in the lead up to our virtual Summit – A Festival of Ideas and the virtual session on Tuesday, 29 February 2024 (10:30am -pm - 12:00 pm). Register now for Cultivating Leadership: Inspiring the Next Wave of Talent and Future Leaders.

Find out more about Housing LIN’s Future Leaders Programme and read the other blogs once published.


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