Compassionate Leadership

Mary Prefontaine Fall 2014

By Mary Prefontaine
2015 Women’s Leadership Conference Breakout Session Speaker
ICAN Program Leader

Season Greetings from Vancouver!

Since leaving my post as ICAN’s CEO last May, I have taken a breath or two, stretched myself, and discovered new things – both on my yoga mat and in my life.  One discovery that has captured my attention is the scientific research between neurology and compassion – how through meditation and mindfulness we can transform our brains, our business and our world.

For many, compassion has often been considered an over indulgence in kindness – perhaps even foolish in times of mediation, negotiation, divorce or war.   It’s not the first tool in our human tool kit that we use when we’re fighting for our jobs, our homes or our freedom.  However,  a new set of skills is needed to navigate the complexity in leadership and our everyday lives  and compassion is one of them.

At a recent conference hosted by the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University business leaders from Seagate, Google and other companies discussed how best practices related to compassion benefited their business. This is a worthy consideration for leaders, especially at this time of year when deadlines are looming, the holidays are fast approaching, and the bank account is dwindling – causing most employees to feel overwhelmed and in desperate need of a little compassion.

My interest in growing my own capability for compassionate leadership was further inspired by a day with His Holiness the Dalai Lama XIV at his October visit to Vancouver.  He offered the following words on the power of compassion, “When we are motivated by compassion and wisdom, the results of our actions benefit everyone, not just our individual selves or some immediate convenience. When we are able to recognize and forgive ignorant actions of the past, we gain strength to constructively solve the problems of the present.”

Powerful stuff.

I recently spoke about the science of compassion in Victoria (the capital of beautiful British Columbia) at the yoUnlimited Connect and Learn Lunch ( and now I am eager to share my discoveries with you!

I hope to see you at ICAN’s 2015 Women’s Leadership Conference, where Mark Watson, Founder of the Omaha Yoga Path (http://www.omahayogapath.netand I have teamed together to offer an experiential  session called “Wired for Compassion.”  It will provide you with insight on how to become a compassionate leader by training your brain through just a few simple techniques and practices.

Until then, wishing you a New Year filled with compassion and joy!