Last week I was present on the book launch of Jan Vermeiren’s new book ‘the compassionate leader’. I remember Jan as the man that convinced me many years ago that networking is very valuable and that being present on LinkedIn is a must do as an entrepreneur. It was interesting to see this man again with a totaly different story. But again a very convincing one, probably because he is so authentic.

What is compassion, and is it different from empathy? One of the questions one could ask with the word.

Sometimes we need to get out of our own heads. We need to recognize and try to show some empathy to those that seem to be falling short. Instead of being annoyed with the co-worker that keeps breaking down, try to sit down and find out what’s going on. Have a sick friend or relative? Don’t avoid them — show them you understand they’re hurting and let them know you’re there to prop them up. A cut-throat attitude has its time and place, but not everywhere and in every situation.

Jan described a compassionate leader as a person that made ‘space’ for other people, not trying to fix the problem (as we probably would do if we were a parent with our child).

Jan also talked about vibes going from negative to creative…and about the mourning phase we should not forget with every change.

But what about leadership? I define leadership as the set of behaviors that inspire others to follow you. You are not a leader until someone has chosen to follow you.

I truly hope one they people will say: she was a compassionate leader, which does not mean that as a compassionate leader I remove every discomfortable moment from someone’s day. I am not trying to please people or to be nice, but rather making sure that people feel they are being acknowledged, respected and cared about as the people they are.

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