Today’s best leadership advice fixates on one big topic: compassion. Those of us who have been in the C-suite for multiple decades are still learning how to do that well. 

What I’ve heard from many of my executive colleagues is a murmuring concern that empathy and compassion may lead to lower standards. I think that’s because empathy alone can look a lot like commiseration. It often centers on pity, not progress, which is why I prefer compassion instead. The difference between them is subtle but important. Empathy means re-positioning yourself into other people’s lives. Compassion means caring for them without adopting the emotions they’re working through.

Your job as a leader is to make the world better: to do hard things with humanity. Showing compassion does not come at the expense of performance. 

Read more below on how to balance the two: