Compassionate leadership: how to support your team when fixing the problem seems impossible

Compassionate leadership: how to support your team when fixing the problem seems impossible

Sarah Vogel Owner and Director, People Development Associates, Birmingham, England
Beth Flint Acting Course Leader and Teaching Fellow, foundation degree in health and social care, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Birmingham City University, Birmingham, England

Why you should read this article
  • To consider the increasingly important need for compassionate leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic

  • To learn about a model that may support nurse managers in developing a compassionate workplace

  • To count towards revalidation as part of your 35 hours of CPD, or you may wish to write a reflective account (UK readers)

  • To contribute towards your professional development and local registration renewal requirements (non-UK readers)

Stress, suboptimal mental health and an inadequate work-life balance are underlying and serious issues in the nursing profession, affecting staff recruitment and retention and potentially having a detrimental effect on patient care.

While compassion towards patients is central to the nursing role, often ‘compassion towards the compassionate’ is lacking. The need for compassion is even more important now, and in the months ahead, due to the additional stressors experienced by nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic, whether they are on the front line, furloughed or shielding.

This article includes reflections from nursing staff and uses their stories to encourage reflection on ethical and moral dilemmas experienced during the pandemic. The Compassion in the Workplace model is suggested as a tool that can be used by nurse managers to examine their compassion levels and to support the development of a compassionate workplace. In addition, this article offers some practical ideas on what compassionate leadership might look like in day-to-day practice.

Nursing Management. doi: 10.7748/nm.2021.e1967

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software


Conflict of interest

None declared

Vogel S, Flint B (2021) Compassionate leadership: how to support your team when fixing the problem seems impossible. Nursing Management. doi: 10.7748/nm.2021.e1967

Accepted 3 November 2020

Published online: 26 January 2021

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