Quality (13) Webinar report: What is the role of compassionate leadership in driving quality care? (4)

28 April, 2021

Below are brief extracts from the webinar on Compassionate leadership, held on 11 March 2021. The full text is available here:



What is the role of compassionate leadership in global health? Critical for sure! For some interesting perspectives that will make you think, see this report out from a recent Global Health Compassion Rounds.


The theme of our rounds today is compassionate leadership. You may ask, "Why compassionate leadership?" We now have randomized clinical trials that document the benefits of compassion training for individuals, but we struggle to develop and sustain compassionate organizations. As you'll hear today, leadership is crucial for compassionate organizations.

In my conversations with global health leaders over the last several years, they've described three challenges to compassion in their work. The first is compassion at a distance. In global health, we often work at great distances from

the people whose health we are working to improve. We see the numbers and the populations rather than the individuals and faces.

Second, there is a barrier of what I call "compulsion to save the world" and an over-identification with work. There is a preoccupation with metrics, measures, and outcomes to the neglect of relationships, process, and compassion.

And third there's a "conspiracy of silence." So many people in global health are motivated by a sense of compassion. But for some reason we don't feel comfortable sharing this with each other, so the power of this collective energy of

shared motivation is hidden. One objective of these global health compassion rounds, is to break this "conspiracy of silence."...

WHO Director General Tedros Ghebreyesus highlighted back in 2018 a few words that remain poignant to this day. He told us, “Quality is not a given. It takes vision, planning, investment, compassion, meticulous execution, and rigorous monitoring, from the national level to the smallest, remotest clinic.” All of that happens through leadership...

Evan Harrel: I think all five of these takeaways are tremendous, but I would like to leave us with the final one. Leaders are everywhere. Leadership is about motivating others towards a shared goal. Global health has a clearly defined goal of relieving suffering and helping remove the causes of suffering. We can all contribute to moving towards that goal....

Laura Berland: I think what we're hearing, and it's so important, is that when you come into alignment with your deeper values with what really matters in life, with your love, with your purpose, with why you're here—that when

all of that starts resonating, that becomes the spiral of win, win, win, win...

Evan Harrel: I just want to say—and Monica expressed this earlier so clearly—we all have this innate ability for compassion, and the trick is to awaken it. And when we awaken it, we are coming into that alignment. So compassion

really isn't something to be learned. Compassion is something that's forgotten, so once we've forgotten, all we have to do is reawaken it and remember...

David Addiss: Here we are. We're on a journey together exploring the deeply human interior of our own compassion and our own being. And we're doing that in the context of global health, which is a massive effort to alleviate suffering.


Neil Pakenham-Walsh, HIFA Coordinator, neil@hifa.org www.hifa.org