Program Helps Business Students Develop Compassionate Leadership Skills
By Bri Phillips
Last spring, 40 Cal State San Marcos business students in Raj Pillai’s leadership in organizations class participated in a Compassionate Leadership Certificate online program to help them develop the necessary skills to become an efficient leader.
Students were paired with one another and met weekly to discuss the readings, exercises and reflections provided in the coursework on compassionate leadership. The program was developed by Cal State East Bay faculty member Dan Martin, CEO of Brightsity and a collaborating scientist at Stanford University's Center for Compassion, Altruism Research and Education.
“The Compassionate Leadership certification taught me to be more mindful of others and myself,” student Jennifer Martinez said in a video to provide feedback on the program.
“This course helped me in so many ways, and I could see the content merge directly from the course into my personal life,” student Allison Marcure added. “I have grown tremendously with the help of this course, becoming more compassionate and more self-confident in myself as a leader.”
Pillai, a professor of management and executive director of the Center for Leadership Innovation and Mentorship Building, worked with MBA alumnus Jimmy Thai and his wife, Lily, who donated $10,000 last spring to support business students for engaging in a Compassionate Leadership Experience (CLE) through Senior Experience projects and the Compassionate Leadership Certificate.
The goal of the program is to develop compassionate student leaders who work on projects that assist underserved communities. The CLE targets short-term community projects for underserved populations. Students have worked on projects for the charity Wounded Warrior Homes and the Boys & Girls Club of San Marcos.
“The course helped me think more consciously about compassion and empathy as I transition into leadership roles post-graduation,” graduating student Jezreel Scannel said. “I really appreciate this opportunity.”
Pillai hopes that, based on student feedback, the certificate program can be offered to students each semester.
“As we emerge from COVID, compassion and empathy are becoming important characteristics for leaders as they deal with challenges of motivating and retaining their people,” Pillai said. “I am hoping that my students learn some compassionate leadership skills that they can take to the workplace.”
Eric Breier, Public Affairs Specialist
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