Self-compassion and leadership: It’s time to give yourself the same compassion you would your best friend

Your best friend calls you, upset that he or she doesn’t think they can handle the situation before them. They don’t think they are creative enough, smart enough, organized enough, best suited for the job. But you know better. You listen to their doubts, calm them and offer the encouraging words they need to become self-assured and tackle the task with confidence. Why can’t you do the same for yourself?

What is self-compassion?

Most of us feel compassion for others, but we struggle to feel it for ourselves. We hold ourselves to a higher standard, sometimes an unattainable one, and then chide ourselves when we don’t succeed. It’s easier to feel shame, doubt and criticism for ourselves. But showing ourselves the warmth, comfort and care that we so freely give to others is something we need to practice to become healthier both personally and professionally. We need to accept that not everything we touch is going to be perfect – and that’s all right. Once we can show ourselves the self-compassion and self-acceptance we deserve, the more successful we become in our daily relationships, productivity, leadership and more.

Building self-compassion and self-acceptance can help you become a better leader

We become better leaders when we build better self-compassion and self-acceptance. By practicing compassion for ourselves, we boost our emotional intelligence. We are more optimistic and can deal with stressful situations more calmly. We become more goal oriented and productive. By softening our inner critic, we are more responsible and show more compassion for others. By learning to be kind to ourselves, we begin to develop the courage and confidence we need to tackle the hard tasks placed before us. This gives us the self-acceptance we need to shine.

Self-compassion Exercises

There is a lot of research on self-compassion and how quieting those inner critics can help you achieve more as a leader. Dr. Kristin Neff, a favorite psychologist of mine, talks about developing self-compassion. Her website offers definitions, research, how to test your level of self-compassion and practices for increasing it. Her various exercises touch on journaling, touch, caregivers and changing critical self-talk. Her exercises have influenced how I practice self-compassion, and I recommend you give some a try.

Practice self-compassion

Don’t let that inner voice be a critic. Instead, give yourself the tools you need to show self-compassion and self-acceptance. That inner voice will become the positive cheerleader you need to shine even brighter.