cover image Compassionate Leadership: How to Do Hard Things in a Human Way

Compassionate Leadership: How to Do Hard Things in a Human Way

Rasmus Hougaard and Jacqueline Carter. Harvard Business Review, $30 (224p) ISBN 978-1-64782-073-2

The notion that leaders must choose between compassion and strength is a false dichotomy, argue consultants Hougaard and Carter in this timely and practical guide (after The Mind of the Leader). Drawing on data from 5,000 companies and interviews with 350 executives, the authors distill their research into 10 mantras to help leaders do their job “in a human way,” among them “courage over comfort” and “clarity is kindness.” While a few strategies are a bit too broad to be useful (“remember the Golden Rule,” and “give more than you take”), most are actionable, and the plan culminates in a discussion of how to have the tough conversations that inevitably accompany hard decisions. When firing people, for example, leaders might “provide a comprehensive program for helping impacted employees find new jobs, keep their computers, retain share options, and get generous severance,” and mentors should coach mentees to find their own solution rather than solve their problems for them. While the guide lacks the strong voice of precursors such as Brené Brown’s Dare to Lead or Kim Scott’s Radical Candor, the authors’ no-nonsense approach is nonetheless effective in outlining the easy-to-follow program. The result is an accessible, handy reference for those eager to lead with kindness. (Jan.)