Courage, empathy and compassion in a time of crises


Leaders need to lead with empathy and compassion, especially in these uncertain times. Our guest at the HR & Leader Think Tank was Julie Kerr Henkel, MD of Luminnos Coaching and Change Consulting.

I met Julia last year when she ran a Dare to be Brave Masterclass; she is one of a few Brene Brown licensees, doing the work on her behalf in Africa.

Julia briefly shared her current challenge and vulnerability as she is one of 125 people stranded in Bali. This might sound idealistic, yet, it has been 5 weeks from home and it is tough. Please, support the petition to bring them safely back home by clicking here: Julia mentioned that over the last couple of weeks she had to dive deep into her toolkit to remain courageous.

Herewith a few highlights following the session:

  1. We live in a time where the collective vulnerability in the world is evident and it’s powerful. Vulnerability defined as the emotion we all experience during times of uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure. Julia explained that being courageous is to be brave and scared at the same time and reminded us as HR leaders that courage is contagious.
  2. We are, however, only all human and we often allow barriers to get in our way of being courageous and we do this to protect ourselves from being vulnerable. The two triggers that stood out for me were: 1. the fear of being irrelevant and 2. numbing ( self-soothing behaviour to “numb” what you are going through right now).
  1. What does it take to be an empathetic leader? Empathy is about connecting with the emotion which underpins the experience of the other. For example, as an HR leader retrenching others, you might not have been through retrenchments before, yet, you can connect with the sense of loss this event can bring.  Read Julia’s full article here.

The 3 actionable steps to demonstrate empathy and compassion is:

  1. Keep checking in with yourself. Identify the emotion you are feeling.
  2. Check-in with those around you.
  3. Role model the behaviour you want to see. Courageous leaders portray behaviours of calmness, clarity and hope.

We can be brave and scared at the same time.




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