Buddhist tradition describes three styles of compassionate leadership.  In a recent Harvard Business Review article, the Dalai Lama described how these styles operate.

  • The Trailblazer is someone who leads from the front, takes risks and sets an example.  
  • The Ferryman accompanies those in his care and manages the ups and downs of the crossing.  
  • The Shepherd sees everyone of her flock to safety before focusing on herself.  

What each has in common is all-encompassing concern for the welfare of the people they lead.

On the opposite side these styles are leaders motivated by anger, greed, self-interest, and destructive emotions that drive how they treat others.  Dalai Lama says that although acting out of self-interest helps us survive, so does warm-heartedness, compassion and love.