Awakening Compassion in Managers—a New Emotional Skills Intervention to Improve Managerial Compassion

Miia Paakkanen*, Frank Martela, Jari Hakanen, Lotta Uusitalo, Anne Pessi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
68 Downloads (Pure)


Compassion is in high demand within organizational research, with important implications for leadership, well-being, and productivity. However, thus far only meditation-based interventions have been implemented to increase compassion in organizations. Our aim was to explore whether compassion could be increased among managers through improving their emotional skills. We implemented a quasi-randomized controlled trial with pre-test and post-test design of a new emotional skills cultivation training among managers, measuring the treatment group (N = 68), the control group (N = 90), and their followers (N = 85 and N = 72). Compared to the control group, the managers exhibited significantly increased sense of emotional skills, with some evidence for an improved sense of compassion. We also found that emotional skills mediated the impact of participating in the intervention group and compassion. Additionally, servant leadership behaviors in the intervention group improved following the intervention. These results demonstrate that instead of being something innate, compassion is a skill that can be increased through training emotional skills, with observable benefits for the organization.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 29 Oct 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Compassion
  • Emotional skills
  • Intervention
  • Managers
  • Organizations
  • Servant leadership


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