Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn on Compassionate Leadership

CEO of LinkedIn, Jeff Weiner is a strong supporter of Compassionate Leadership. Here he explains his ethos on what it means to be a Compassionate Leader. He has incorporated compassion into his unique management style. The company has grown tremendously not only at their head office but also around the world. 

“Managing compassionately is about putting yourself in another person’s shoes and seeing the world through their lens and perspective,” shared LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner during his Stanford GSB View From The Top talk on Thursday, February 2, 2017.

One of the core values of LinkedIn is Compassionate Leadership, here he describes what it means to his company.

 

An act of kindness makes all the difference

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This film on youtube moved me. This was such an act of kindness and compassion. This homeless lady was desperate for food. She walked into a restaurant in San Fransisco. Apparently the restaurant staff knocked her to the ground. This was a random act of kindness. a patron of the restaurant took her away from the place, provided her with food, gave her a belt for her trousers.

She said: ‘I want you to know that you are better, you are worthy, you are God’s masterpiece. When he made you he didn’t make a mistake.’ I hope this video will inspire you to reach out in compassion and love to people who are down on their luck. Please  share this with others.

Film courtesy of youtube.

 

Tim Tebow and his “Night to Shine” global event for Special Needs

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Tim Tebow is a big man with a big heart. It is absolutely incredible what he is doing to lift up and show compassion to people with special needs, not just in the United States of America, but all over the world. He has set up a hugely successful ‘Night to Shine’ event in the United States. In his own words: ‘The vision of Night to Shine is to love people with special needs, it’s to bring churches together and to ultimately change the world through the eyes of people with special needs. February 8th (in 2019), will truly be a night people will never forget.’

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So what is ‘Night to Shine?’ Tim Tebow is a devout Christian. His number one priority in life is his faith in God. He has established a Tim Tebow Foundation as a Christian Ministry, an act of faith, focusing on celebrating the lives of all people with special needs. According to his Foundation website: ‘Night to Shine is an unforgettable prom night experience, centred on God’s love, for people with special needs ages 14 and older. This February 8, 2019, Night to Shine will celebrate its fifth anniversary! On one night, 655 churches from around the world came together to host Night to Shine for approximately 100,000 honored guests through the support of 200,000 volunteers! ‘ This is partnership working at its finest, aimed at loving and celebrating people with special needs.

People with special needs are given the Royal treatment. Red carpets, ball gowns, tuxedos, good food, the works. This night stands out. This event also brings together volunteers from local communities, they come to serve people with special needs. What an amazing event that reaches out in love to all those with special needs. Tim Tebow once posted a verse from the Bible on his Facebook page which sums up what he is doing for the most vulnerable sections of society: “‪Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ God forgave you. ” Ephesians, Chapter 4:32‬

The lives of people with special needs have worth and value. As the chorus goes, ‘all are precious in His sight.’ My wife and I campaigned long and hard for autism in the United Kingdom and around the world since the year 2000. We founded Autism Sunday, also know as the International Day of Prayer for Autism, to celebrate the lives of 67 million people with autism. We just did it all of this for love, never for the money. We didn’t have millions to pay for expensive PR campaigns, we were just parents and caregivers, by a miracle it spread around the world, by word of mouth. Coincidentally, Autism Sunday falls just two days after Tim Tebow’s ‘Night to Shine’ event on Sunday the 10th February in 2019. Our campaigning days are over as we believe God is taking our family in another direction. Seasons come and go but hope lives on.

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We have a precious son, Charin who is on the autism spectrum, he is 23 years old. When we were in the United Kingdom Charin attended a special needs secondary school (high school). After students completed their studies in the Sixth Form, (in the UK that is Year 12 and 13), the school held an annual Prom for them, very similar to the ‘Night to Shine’ event in the United States. That was the first occasion that our son wore a black suit, bow tie, black shoes and attended a Prom – it was also the first ever occasion he danced with another special needs girl! Charin was so excited, (and we were as excited as our son, life has been a struggle for him and for us but we so thank God that he has been a blessing to us), our son knew this was something very different. He had heard about the School Proms from films he has watched and shrieked with joy when he was dressing up to attend the prom.

My wife and I found the Prom in our son’s special needs school in the United Kingdom so touching and moving. We were very proud to see our son looking so dapper and seeing his moves on the dance floor – for the first time! He also loved the food! My wife had to drag me away from the scene as I was transfixed and deeply moved! I was  thankful to God, for this moment of compassion, seeing our son celebrating and being celebrated in this way, at his first ever Prom in the United Kingdom. It was a beautiful sight to behold. I salute Tim Tebow for embracing this concept and bringing joy into the lives of people with special needs with his “Night to Shine” event. This is a wonderful act of kindness and compassion.

 Tim Tebow was born in the Philippines on August 14, 1987. He is a former professional American football quarterback and is a current professional baseball outfielder in the New York Mets organization. He has played college football for the University of Florida, winning the Heisman Trophy in 2007 and appearing on BCS National Championship -winning teams during the 2006 and 2008 seasons. Tebow was selected by the Denver Broncos in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft and spent two seasons with the team. He also played for the New York Jets in 2012. Additionally, he had preseason stints with the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles in 2013 and 2015.

Wherever he goes, Tim Tebow shares his faith in Jesus Christ – on the football field he was known for having the verse John 3:16 on his face patches. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Perhaps his greatest success has been to set up the Tim Tebow Foundation and to launch the  inspirational “Night to Shine” event, helping churches to celebrate all people with special needs and that includes starting up a whole worldwide movement to help churches establish infrastructure – in order to welcome and support people with special needs into churches, within  a spirit of love and compassion.

When I think of Tim Tebow, this song comes to my mind. His actions on earth are a reflection of the actions of his Heavenly Father. ‘You raise me up to more than I can be,’ says the song, so I can stand on mountains – there is always hope, even for young people with special needs, their parents and their caregivers.

As a father of a young man with autism, I want to thank Tim Tebow, from the bottom of my heart, for raising up people with special needs, for bringing joy into their lives, for celebrating their lives, for showing them love and compassion with his ‘Night to Shine’ event. He is an all American hero and above everything else a wonderful servant of God who embodies Compassionate Leadership. He brings a touch of Heaven into the lives of the most vulnerable sections of society. He truly is a Servant Leader.

Here are Tim Tebow’s Top 10 Rules for Success – lessons in leadership:

  1. Pursue your passion.
  2. Strive for excellence.
  3. Focus on your goals.
  4. Change lives.
  5. Block out the criticism.
  6. Always give your best.
  7. Set your priorities.
  8. Rise after falling.
  9. Believe in yourself.
  10. Work hard.

Ivan Corea

To support the Tim Tebow Foundation, please access the link:

https://www.timtebowfoundation.org/

Photographs courtesy of Wikipedia and the Tim Tebow Foundation.

Films courtesy of Youtube.

 

 

 

 

 

Abraham Lincoln – a great US President and a compassionate leader

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Travelling to Washington DC for the first time with my father and my cousin in the summer of 1986, on of the ‘must see places’ in the capital, on our list, was the Lincoln Memorial – there he was seated – the 16th US President who saved the nation, under the words: “In this temple, as in the hearts of the people for whom he saved the Union, the memory of Abraham Lincoln is enshrined forever.”

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I first read about Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War, from that old Classic comic book first published in 1958.  He was a President I greatly admired from the days of my childhood. He passionately believed that all men were equal, hence his deep commitment to abolishing slavery. Abraham Lincoln said: “I leave you, hoping that the lamp of liberty will burn in your bosoms until there shall no longer be a doubt that all men are created free and equal.” Half a million people perished in the Civil War. Beauty came out of ashes when President Lincoln ushered in a new birth of freedom, with the end of the civil war and the end of slavery.

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I never forgot those famous words uttered by this great man at the historic Gettysburg Address in 1863 – it is one of the greatest speeches made by a President of the United States of America. Here is the full text of President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honoured dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Abraham Lincoln

November 19, 1863

Here is one of two confirmed photographs of President Lincoln shortly after he arrived at Gettysburg on November 19th 1863, three hours before he made that historic speech. Mr. Lincoln can be seen in the middle of this photograph.

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Abraham Lincoln was a very strong leader as well as a compassionate leader. He suffered during his childhood. They say he lived in economic poverty his father might have been very hard on him, his mother passed away when he was 9 years old, he lost his sister when he was a teenager. The lawyer Eric Giroux, writing in the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, writes about Lincoln’s compassion: ‘Yet Lincoln, naturally disposed to empathy for his fellow living beings, seemed to learn from suffering, both his own and that of others.  As exemplified by his approaches to poverty, slavery, and the Civil War itself, Lincoln responded to suffering by expanding the sphere of his compassion. ‘

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Abraham Lincoln’s White House

Giroux recalled a letter that Abraham Lincoln wrote to a girl who had lost her father in the war. William McCullough’s death had plunged his daughter Fanny into a serious depression, which Lincoln addressed head-on in words that, as an expression of Lincoln’s compassion, are both representative and timeless:

Executive Mansion,
Washington, December 23, 1862.

Dear Fanny:

It is with deep grief that I learn of the death of your kind and brave Father; and, especially, that it is affecting your young heart beyond what is common in such cases.  In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all; and, to the young, it comes with bitterest agony, because it takes them unawares.  The older have learned to ever expect it.  I am anxious to afford some alleviation of your present distress. Perfect relief is not possible, except with time.  You can not now realise that you will ever feel better.  Is not this so? And yet it is a mistake.  You are sure to be happy again.  To know this, which is certainly true, will make you some less miserable now.  I have had experience enough to know what I say; and you need only to believe it, to feel better at once.  The memory of your dear Father, instead of an agony, will yet be a sad sweet feeling in your heart, of a purer and holier sort than you have known before.

Please present my kind regards to your afflicted mother.

Your sincere friend,
A. Lincoln

I was so thrilled that on a visit to Walt Disney World in Florida, our son also learnt about Abraham Lincoln and was able to see the figure and the President’s story in the Hall of Presidents in Liberty Square at Disney.

Ivan Corea

Excerpts from Eric Giroux’s article in the Massachusetts Lawyer’s Weekly: https://masslawyersweekly.com/2011/07/13/lincoln%E2%80%99s-compassion/

Photograph of Abraham Lincoln’s White House courtesy of The Gilder Lehrman Collection, New York

Photographs of Lincoln courtesy of Pixaby, Pexel and Wikipedia.

Random acts of kindness

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This message was written on a London Underground noticeboard in a tube station in the capital of Great Britain. Kindness is truly one of the greatest gifts you can give to each other.  I have witnessed many random acts of kindness in Redding, California. From people donating to students who needed financial support to a pastor collecting shoes, slippers, toothpaste, soap and other essential items for the homeless. They say that a random act of kindness is a nonpremeditated, inconsistent action designed to offer kindness towards the outside world. ‘ These are truly moments of compassion.

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Even successful entrepreneurs like Great Britain’s Richard Branson, focus on kindness and compassion, when it comes to treating their employees. It is seen as a leadership strength. I do believe a leadership shift happens when you show kindness and compassion – whether it is in your own home, in the local community or in the corporate business sector. In 1992,  I was on a plane with my family to Colombo, Sri Lanka and who should be on board but Richard Branson and his family, accompanying them were Richard Branson’s father and mother who were flying to the island on a business/holiday trip. We got talking on board, he was very accessible, he came across as a very kind person. Here are Richard Branson’s tips for some simple, random acts of kindness:

“Kindness is such an important characteristic – so we should all work on being more friendly, generous and considerate. To help you do this, this year I challenge you to complete the 15 random acts of kindness as listed below. I will be carrying them out myself, too. The more people smile, the more the world will smile. “

1. Tell a joke
2. Call a friend or a relative
3. Give a compliment to a stranger
4. Make up with anyone you’ve fallen out with (even if you feel it’s their fault)
5. Give someone a hug

6. Leave a happy note for someone to find
7. Email an old teacher who has made a difference in your life
8. Hand-write someone a letter, and mail it
9. Smile at someone on the street, just because
10. Talk to the shy person who’s sitting by themselves at a party

11. Help a parent with their baby stroller
12. Help someone struggling with heavy bags
13. Stop to talk to a homeless person
14. Give up your seat to someone on the bus or train
15. Give someone a book you think they’d like.

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Growing up in Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), I was blessed to have a grandfather who showed the love of Christ to the poorest of the poor – the Rodi community in Sri Lanka – there were those who did not want to know them or help them as they were deemed almost inferior because of their caste – my Grandfather (who was a Christian priest), went and ministered to them and found them food, clothing and shelter – even finding the Rodi employment in Colombo and housing them on church property in Colombo.

I also remember a moment of brotherly love during my teenage years -my younger brother was sleeping on a mat, by my bedside, holding my hand at night time,  when I was nearly dying of typhoid. I was in agony, my stomach was on fire, coupled with high fever of  a 105 degrees F. Even though I wasn’t truly a Christian, I remember crying out: “Jesus, please heal me,’ because I was in so much pain. I so felt the love of my younger teenage brother  – it was an act of compassion. That song ‘He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother,’ comes to mind. He was there by my bedside during a very tough time for me – it was very much a life and death situation – I thank God that as a result of progressive healing, I recovered after 8 months in bed – my weight was down to 90 lbs. It was an absolute miracle that I survived from typhoid and a relapse.

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The Bible has many references on kindness. Micah chapter Chapter 6 verse 8 says: ‘ He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? ‘ And then again in Colossians Chapter 3 verses 12-13: ‘Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.’ Compassion and kindness feature prominently in Christian teaching. Jesus himself was moved by compassion and healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, made the lame walk and raised the dead according to the New Testament.

I am reminded of the scene from the epic film ‘Ben Hur, ‘ directed by William Wyler and released in 1959. There is a scene in the film when Judah Ben Hur (Charlton Heston) in desperation, pleads for water, from the people of the village – however, the order had been given by the Romans that he was to have no water. This scene so reflects the compassion of Jesus and is one of the most empowering scenes in the film – Jesus comes to Ben Hur and gives him water to drink.

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” – John 4:13, 14

Here’s a television advertisement from Thailand that focuses on a touch of humanity:

Here’s another inspirational video on youtube with the hashtag #rekindlekindness

You make the world a better place by showing kindness to others and going that extra mile to help someone.

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We took our son to Long Beach, California – we felt he deserved a holiday at Christmas. He is on the autism spectrum and life can be a struggle for us and for him. We checked into a hotel at Long Beach. One morning our son went up to get some breakfast. For a moment I got rather worried, I saw this businessman walk up to my son – I thought there was an incident happening before my eyes. As I was getting up from my chair, I noticed this man speaking very kindly to him and as usual our son wasn’t giving him any eye contact!

This businessman was talking to him for a while. He came to our table and said ‘your son was helping me choose my breakfast.’ He had possibly realised that our son had autism and made a deliberate choice to engage him in conversation. The kindness of a stranger to our precious son. I got up and went over to him and thanked him for that random act of kindness. I said the more people engage with him in conversation the better it is for him in terms of social interaction and communication. His parting words to me were:”God bless you, Merry Christmas.” God bless you too, whoever you are,  for being incredibly kind to our son in Long Beach, California.

Ivan Corea

Quote on Richard Branson and his 15  random acts of kindness, courtesy of the Virgin website: https://www.virgin.com/richard-branson/importance-kindness

Photograph courtesy of Pexels and Long Beach Council.

The Compassionate Baroness and the Lady Cox Rehabilitation Centre

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Caroline Cox, a Baroness in the House of Lords, in the British Parliament, is one of the kindest, most caring and compassionate women I have ever met. She has such a heart for the most vulnerable sections of society. She has truly been a ‘voice for the voiceless’ and has championed human rights around the world – she is a woman of faith and that has been the guiding light, in whatever she has done. There are those who agree to disagree with her, but she carries on regardless, ‘speaking up for those who cannot speak up for themselves.’

Decades ago, Caroline Cox replied one of my letters when I was campaigning on behalf of parents, care givers and people with autism – you could sense the compassion in her. Caroline Cox is no fake. She is the real deal. In 2015 Biola University in the United States of America invited a Baroness for the first time, to address 225 graduates and 725 under graduates at their Spring Commencement ceremonies. On that occasion Biola University presented her with the Chuck Colson Award for Conviction and Courage. Recipients of the award are individuals who demonstrate commitment to the unshakeable truths of a biblical worldview, as well as a willingness to act on biblical convictions, however risky or challenging it may be.

An Armenian organisation in the United States, awarded her with the ANCA-WR ‘Advocate for Justice’ award in 2018. She has always been a powerful voice for the voiceless. She is the founder and CEO of Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART), which combines aid with advocacy, working for people suffering from oppression, exploitation and persecution.

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In 2018 Caroline Cox asked me if I would like to accompany her and a team from HART to visit the Lady Cox Rehabilitation Centre in Artsakh, Armenia to celebrate 20 years of this Centre. I readily agreed because my gut feeling was that I would see something amazing here. Wherever we travelled in Armenia, people would come up to Caroline Cox and thank her for standing by them, in their hour of need.  I will never forget, as we were walking in Stepanakert, this really frail old lady crossing the road, saw Caroline and came up to her and spoke to her with gratitude in her eyes.

When we reached the Centre I witnessed the work of the staff and therapists – they were giving love, care, devotion, dedication, commitment. The Lady Cox Rehabilitation Centre is headed by a gentleman called Vardan who is the embodiment of Compassionate Leadership. He is totally driven by compassion and is a powerful voice for the vulnerable in Armenia. Vardan is deeply passionate about helping and supporting the disabled in Armenia. It was wonderful to see love in action.

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I was so moved to meet with the children with autism. One little boy jumped into my arms and hugged me. It touched my heart. This beautiful place is a ‘centre of excellence, ‘ in every sense. I saw people who had suffered strokes and the therapists were teaching them to walk and talk again. I saw children with autism being taught skills which will help them to live independently, they were teaching them communication skills and so many other skills too. I walked into one room and saw very young children with autism who were being taught to prepare vegetables for their lunch at the Centre. As I left the room, a little boy with autism shouted out ‘Papa.’ It shook my heart.

Some of the people who came to this centre were from the poorest of the poor, travelling miles away from villages in Armenia, in order for the staff and therapists to help their loved ones. They are able to stay for a few weeks at the Centre and the staff teach the parents and caregivers much needed skills and strategies to help their children when they return home.

Training is given to people who need it. When I was there I saw local school children visiting the Centre – it was a learning experience for them. The place is a hub of activity, you could feel a real buzz. Vardan should be congratulated for introducing innovation, educational strategies, in service in house training for his staff – he is an amazing visionary and so forward thinking with a positive outlook on life. Sir Winston Churchill once said: ‘Never, never, never give up.’ Vardan certainly never gives up. He sees the big picture and he has acted upon it. Partnership working is important to him and he has partnered with people all over the world.

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Wherever you are in the world, please have a place in your heart for HART,  help raise much needed funds for the Lady Cox Rehabilitation Centre. They do so much with very little. A mustard seed has grown into a great big tree. At the moment the charity is trying to raise funds to buy a used van for Vardan (The Van4Vardan campaign), so that they could transport the differently abled to summer camps.

Having visited this Centre (as a former autism campaigner), I can assure you that what is happening here is genuine, real, innovative, a place of compassion – really supporting the differently abled. Please contact the Lady Cox Rehabilitation Centre, visit them, volunteer, consider financially supporting the work for the most vulnerable sections of society. HART is spearheading this wonderful work, reaching out ‘to the least of these.’ The Lady Cox Rehabilitation Centre is a place of love and compassion. A diamond in the heart of Eastern Europe. A very precious place.

Ivan Corea

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Please contact the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART) in London, in the United Kingdom for further information. Their contact details are on the website – please access the link below:

https://www.hart-uk.org/

https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/van4vardan

 

Some pictures courtesy of the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust

 

Are you a Compassionate Leader?

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Are you a compassionate leader? 

The Harvard Business Review has come up with an assessment – you answer the questions online and submit them and you will receive a report. Please click on the link below.

Compassion has become increasingly recognised as a foundational aspect of leadership. One study from 2012 found that compassionate leaders appear stronger and have more engaged followers. Other studies have found that organisations with more compassionate leaders have better collaboration, lower turnover, and employees who are more trusting, more connected to each other, and more committed to the company. When we surveyed more than 1,000 leaders from 800 organisations, 91% of them said compassion is very important for their leadership and 80% said they would like to enhance their compassion but do not know how.

What do we mean by compassion? It is the intent to contribute to the happiness and well-being of others. A compassionate leader has a genuine interest in seeing their people not just perform and increase profits but thrive. But this doesn’t mean “being soft” or trying to please people by giving them what they want; rather, it requires giving people what they need, such as tough feedback. Compassionate leadership requires having wisdom about how to lead for the greater good and for the long term. The good news is that compassionate leadership can be learned. With simple practices we can become more compassionate and bring more wisdom to our leadership. This assessment will help you understand how wisely compassionate you are. Answer each question honestly. After you take the assessment, you will get a report outlining where you can improve, along with practical tips for becoming a more compassionate leader.

Please submit your questions to the answers for the assessment on the link of the Harvard Business Review.

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The Assessment is courtesy of the Harvard Business Review.


Compassionate Bosses have an advantage

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Compassionate Bosses have an advantage says the Daily Telegraph, examining the England Football Manager (2019) Gareth Southgate’s example for the business benefits of Compassionate Leadership.

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To read the Jon Card’s article in the Daily Telegraph, please click on the link below:

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/connect/small-business/how-to-create-gareth-southgate-team-management/

 

Photograph of Gareth Southgate courtesy of Wikipedia and Кирилл Венедиктов – This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unportedlicense.

Article courtesy of the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

A moment of compassion on a battlefield during the Christmas Truce of 1914

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It was 1914. The British Army and the German Army were involved in hand to hand combat near Ypres during Wold War I.  It was brutal. Troops on both side were killed or injured in huge numbers. It was one of the deadliest conflicts in human history. Over 40 million military personnel and civilians perished in World War I.  In the month of December 1914, the thoughts of the soldiers went back to their loved ones as it was getting nearer to Christmas, the soldiers frequently sang Christmas Carols in the trenches. Sir Edward Hamilton Westrow Hulse, 7th Baronet and a British Army Officer with the Scots Guards wrote detailed accounts of life in the trenches during World War I. Describing what happened in December, Sir Edward wrote that he was organising a concert party on Christmas Day which would “give the enemy every conceivable form of song in harmony” in response to frequent choruses of  German soldiers singing Deutschland Uber Alles. 

Soldiers on both sides were celebrating the birth of a Saviour, Jesus Christ. What an irony that they were celebrating the birth of the Prince of Peace and here they were at war fighting each other on the Western Front. There were ‘unofficial cessations’ of hostilities, particularly during Christmas. Both sides had Christmas trees in the trenches, lit candles and sang Carols.

Then came moments of unimaginable compassion – sadly they were only moments. Captain Robert Patrick Miles who was with the Royal Irish Rifles recalled that moment of compassion in a letter: ” Friday (Christmas Day). We are having the most extraordinary Christmas Day imaginable. A sort of unarranged and quite unauthorized but perfectly understood and scrupulously observed truce exists between us and our friends in front. The funny thing is it only seems to exist in this part of the battle line – on our right and left we can all hear them firing away as cheerfully as ever. The thing started last night – a bitter cold night, with white frost – soon after dusk when the Germans started shouting ‘Merry Christmas, Englishmen’ to us. Of course our fellows shouted back and presently large numbers of both sides had left their trenches, unarmed, and met in the debatable, shot-riddled, no man’s land between the lines. Here the agreement – all on their own – came to be made that we should not fire at each other until after midnight tonight. The men were all fraternising in the middle (we naturally did not allow them too close to our line) and swapped cigarettes and lies in the utmost good fellowship. Not a shot was fired all night. “

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Writing about the German soldiers Captain Miles noted: “They are distinctly bored with the war. In fact, one of them wanted to know what on earth we were doing here fighting them.”

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Then came the football matches on Christmas Day. Football and Compassion on a field of war! Gerard deGroot of the Telegraph newspaper in the United Kingdom wrote: “What a sight; little groups of Germans and British extending along the length of our front,” wrote Corporal John Ferguson of the Seaforth Highlanders. “We were laughing and chatting to men whom only a few hours before we were trying to kill. Fraternisation led inevitably to football. Men who could not otherwise communicate shared a common language in the game. “After a short while somebody punted across a football,” one subaltern recalled. “The ball landed amongst the Germans and they immediately kicked it back at our men … it was a melêe. It wasn’t a question of 10-a-side, it was a question of 70 Germans against 50 Englishmen.” That scenario was repeated all along the line. The locations of these matches remain obscure, in part because few soldiers subsequently admitted taking part.

On January 1 1915, an anonymous major wrote to The Times that an English regiment “had a football match with the Saxons, who beat them 3-2”. That score echoes through the accounts. Yet since the stories originate from various parts of the front, this suggests either incredible consistency in the results, or a remarkable willingness to remember the event in exactly the same way. Equally possible, all recollections might relate to a single mythical encounter that never actually took place. In truth, it matters not if a match ending 3-2 actually occurred, since myths are often more powerful than facts. The “match” is universally celebrated, even by the English who might otherwise prefer to forget another defeat to the Germans. At least it did not end in penalties.

Playing football rudely exposed the contrived nature of wartime animosity. For that reason, it was quickly quashed. Gustav Riebensahm, an officer in the 2nd Westphalian regiment, immediately complained to his commanders that “the whole thing has become ridiculous and must be stopped”. Near Ypres, a corporal named Adolf Hitler voiced the view that fraternisation “should not be allowed”. General Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien echoed that sentiment, reminding his subordinate commanders that “Friendly intercourse with the enemy … [is] absolutely prohibited.” An even sterner directive was issued by the 1st Army commander, General Douglas Haig, who warned that soldiers caught fraternising could face a firing squad.

In truth, there was never any danger that goodwill would endure. Everyone accepted that the moment of compassion was just that – a moment. At 8:30 on Boxing Day morning, Stockwell fired three shots in the air, then hoisted a flag with “Merry Christmas” on it. The German captain appeared on the parapet, bowed and fired two shots in reply. “The War was on again,” wrote Stockwell. The guns resumed their murderous cacophony; slaughter resumed. The footballs were put away, ” said Gerard deGroot.

It was a sad moment of humanity and compassion on a battlefield. A brief lull in the fighting and they then resumed hostilities after Boxing Day. Many who met on the field of war to exchange gifts and play football, perished afterwards in a hail of bullets and gunfire.

Ivan Corea

Sainsburys actually produced a film for Christmas recalling the story of the Christmas Truce of December 2014 and the football match between the British and German armies.

Here are some amazing photographs from 1914 of British and German solders meeting together during the Christmas Truce.

 

Photographs courtesy of Wikipedia and Pixaby

Excerpt from an article by Gerard deGroot in the Telegraph newspaper in London titled: ‘The Truth about the Christmas Day Match.” https://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/world-war-one/11310353/The-truth-about-the-Christmas-Day-football-match.html

Youtube clips from the Sainsbury’s advertisement on the Christmas Truce and the football match and genuine photographs from 1914 from Yesterday Today.

Showing compassion to your enemies

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The quote attributed to Sir Winston Churchill is an interesting one. They say he may not have said it, however it does provoke discussion about having enemies. If you take a stand on an issue, there will be those who will try to bring you down. Churchill had many enemies on the battlefield, in the British parliament and even in his own cabinet. Winston Churchill had a bulldog spirit he did have low moments in his life but he refused to give up and give in – he famously said ‘never, never, never give up,’ and another quote attributed to Britain’s war time Prime Minister: ‘If you are going through hell, keep going!’ He always took the fight to the enemy. Allen Packwood of the Churchill Archives at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom noted:

“Churchill led from the front in his willingness to take real risks to implement an aggressive policy, he was prepared to denude Britain of armour, and to transport it by the quicker, but more hazardous, Mediterranean route. Where he differed from those around him was in the intensity of his desire to engage the enemy. For him it was never just about defence. Victory depended on taking the fight to the enemy on the ground.  “

We come across people who try to bring us down, make us stumble and fall – sometimes even through entrapment. An enemy might violate your fundamental human rights, bring pain and distress to your friends and family, even involve your own children, smear you behind your back, go to great lengths to bring you down, some brazenly use bribery and corruption. There are those who say the only way to stop your enemy is take the fight to them, meet fire with fire, hire lawyers and sue them for compensation. The media is awash with indictments before grand juries, court injunctions, in the United States – in the United Kingdom a few years ago, a huge phone hacking, email and voice mail hacking scandal even brought down a British newspaper who were forced to close down, with millions given out in compensation to people who had been illegally and unlawfully hacked. There are times whenever people resort to evil, it has a ‘boomerang effect,’ however much you try to do things behind your victims back and think you can get away with it – what goes around, comes around. No one is above the law.

The Scriptures talk about a Day of Reckoning – Judgement Day – Ecclesiastes 12:14 says: “for God will bring every deed into judgement, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil. ” Romans Chapter 2 verse 16 talks about that final day: This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.” Your enemy would do well to digest Romans Chapter 2!

Psalm 23 reveals that ‘he prepares a table in the presence of my enemies.’ It doesn’t say ‘he prepares a table in the absence of my enemies.’ This is the ultimate rebuke to your enemies – they will have to stand and watch from the very edges of society as you eat in the King’s presence, you will enjoy the favour of the Lord and your enemies will not be able to do one thing about it.

So why did Jesus have to take on so much suffering at the hands of his enemies? Here’s a view from the gotquestions.org website: “Jesus suffered severely throughout His trials, torture, and crucifixion (Matthew 27Mark 15Luke 23John 19). His suffering was physicalIsaiah 52:14 declares, “There were many who were appalled at Him—His appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness.” His suffering was emotional: “All the disciples deserted him and fled” (Matthew 26:56). His suffering was spiritual: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus had the weight of the sins of the entire world on Him (1 John 2:2). It was sin that caused Jesus to cry out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). Jesus’ brutal physical suffering was augmented by His having to bear the guilt of our sins and die to pay our penalty (Romans 5:8).

Isaiah predicted Jesus’ suffering: “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:35). This passage specifies the reason for Jesus’ suffering: “for our transgressions,” for our healing, and to bring us peace.

Jesus told His disciples that His suffering was certain: “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life” (Luke 9:22; cf. 17:25). Note the word must—He must suffer, and He must be killed. The suffering of Christ was God’s plan for the salvation of the world. “

So what did Jesus do when he was faced with an onslaught from enemies all around him? He forgave. That was the simple message – forgive. Did he have lawyers at his trial, were there character witnesses to vouch for him – absolutely none. The enemies of Jesus targeted the weakest link in his inner circle. Who was the weakest link? Judas. The keeper of the purse. What was his weakness? The love of money. He is called a thief in John Chapter 12 verse 6:  “He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. ” How did they persuade him to betray Jesus? They bribed him, used corruption, gave him 30 pieces of silver. Give us a sign, kiss him on the cheek they said. Peter denied him three times before the cock crowed thrice. The disciples fled. Jesus was tortured, his face disfigured, a crown of thorns placed brutally on his head, he was physically and verbally abused, spat upon, whipped, battered, bruised, dehydrated, exhausted. And yet he forgave. Great leaders show mercy.

Peter asked Jesus about forgiveness: Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” (Matthew: Chapter 18, verses 21-22). In that chapter Jesus teaches us that we are to forgive our brother from our heart. Now learning to forgive can be very hard. How can you forgive someone who has been trying to destroy you and your family – out of sheer spite, hatred, anger, jealousy and has, say, tried to harm your children? Jesus on the cross forgave the robber, forgave all those who had committed those terrible crimes against him – even though it did not excuse their actions.  Jesus taught, “If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you.” (Matthew: Chapter 6:14). Even after the Resurrection, Jesus told his disciples: “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them.” (John Chapter 20: verses 22, 23). Jesus had  a such a deep forgiveness ministry. 

The life, the death, the resurrection, the teachings and the forgiveness ministry of Jesus has resonated with so many down the centuries. The Guardian newspaper of Great Britain noted:” If you think religion belongs to the past and we live in a new age of reason, you need to check out the facts: 84% of the world’s population identifies with a religious group. Members of this demographic are generally younger and produce more children than those who have no religious affiliation, so the world is getting more religious, not less – although there are significant geographical variations. According to 2015 figures, Christians form the biggest religious group by some margin, with 2.3 billion adherents or 31.2% of the total world population of 7.3 billion.”

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Martin Luther King famously said: ‘We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.’

Richard Branson recently shared on social media the words of a lady from Igniting Change who said: ‘People who are inflicting the most pain (on others) are in the most pain themselves.’ These people who do you wrong could be in terrible torment within themselves. Pray for your enemies, forgive them and bless them, their children and their children’s children.

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Even from a personal perspective, there was a time in my life when I had serious disagreements with my father. It caused so much bitterness inside me. I just didn’t want to talk to him. Then came the realisation that life was too short, God was asking me to forgive him and I needed to seek forgiveness too. So I went and met him, I told him how much I loved him and said: ‘Father, forgive me.’ There was a radical transformation in that precious moment, between a Father and a Son.

My father was 75 years old at the time. After that incredible breakthrough in our relationship, whenever I telephoned him to say I coming to visit him, he would walk up the road and stay near some bollards, waiting for me. The passage of time had mellowed him. When he saw me, he put his arms around me and hugged me, tears rolling down our faces. This was unconditional love. Later that year, my father passed away and I was glad there had been a breakthrough – I was able to celebrate his life at a service of thanksgiving and thank God for that act of forgiveness. When I think of him now I think of him with so much love – the bitterness, the anger has melted away.

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He said love your enemies – here is a clip from Mel Gibson’s ‘The Passion of the Christ.”  When you forgive you don’t keep any bitterness, hatred, anger inside of you. It doesn’t eat into your soul,  crippling your mind and your heart. Forgiveness brings release, freedom. You let go of the angst, that heavy burden will be lifted from you. It will set you free from the shackles of a bitter heart. Forgiveness is a very powerful tool and it releases God’s favour and blessings.

Ivan Corea

 

Quotations from the Bible from the New International Version.

Reference to Christ’s suffering courtesy of  gotquestions.org

Reference from the Guardian article:”Religion: why faith is becoming more and more popular.” Published in August 2018.

Clips from YouTube courtesy of the Passion of the Christ film.

Photograph of Winston Churchill taken from a portrait at his residence in Chartwell, Kent in the United Kingdom.
Photographs courtesy of Pexels and Pixabay.