Developing Sustainable Leaders Through Coaching and Compassion

By integrating recent findings in affective neuroscience and biology with well-documented research on leadership and stress, we offer a more holistic approach to leadership development. We argue here that leader sustainability is adversely affected by the psychological and physiological effects of chronic power stress associated with the performance of the leadership role. We further contend, however, that when leaders experience compassion through coaching the development of others, they experience psychophysiological effects that restore the body’s natural healing and growth processes, thus enhancing their leader sustainability. We thus suggest that to sustain their effectiveness, leaders should emphasize coaching as a key part of their role and behavioral habits. Implications for future research on leadership and leadership sustainability are discussed, as well as implications for the practice of leadership development and education.

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