Ruthless Compassionate Leadership

My intention with this Startup Leadership series has been to provide access for startup founders and leaders-to-be to discover their own power in taking on whatever they intend in life. If my message or writing have offended, stepped on anybody’s toes, come on a little strong or been intrusive, that WAS my intention! Not to undermine you, but rather to provoke your best thinking.

If you take a moment to observe great leaders, you see clearly that they have developed a high level of mastery with their relationship to the fundamental elements of the “Law of Attraction” (they have discovered the Secret). “You get what you think about; your thinking is what determines your destiny”, or as I call it, Generative Thinking. The kind of thinking that generates and manifests reality –a/k/a results.

Exceptional leaders immerse themselves in the design principles of The Law of Attraction in a most profound way, almost as if it is their second nature or part of their DNA makeup. Not as a control factor or a way to dominate; rather, in the way that they are. The Law of Attraction phenomenon is an authentic expression of what they see is possible, not a manipulation or abuse. (If you abuse it you lose it. It is that simple.)

Rather, it is a gift that needs to be used with a high degree of responsibility and integrity. The Law of Attraction works both ways, positively and negatively. Each is equally powerful. It can build a whole world or take down an empire.

We all have heard people say about leaders, “leaders always get what they want”. I suspect that it has to do mostly with their mastery of the Law of Attraction. Not a kind of lip service leadership, or ego and evil intention that has a desire to be portrayed as a leader for their own personal gain. (Yes, you know who they are…) We speak of course of an authentic leadership –the kind of leadership that makes things possible, and stands for change and progress for all.

When you first hear it, it sounds like a contradiction or a paradox. Not at all. These two ways of being complement each other in a profound way when used in the context of leadership.


The way I use it is different than the conventional meaning. I am not talking about being inconsiderate, uncaring, disrespectful or mean. It is a tool that great leaders use to express their passion and commitment, like “tough love”.

I introduce it as it is expressed in the following:

  • Being ruthless in demanding from people nothing less than their greatness
  • Being ruthless in standing for that which is possible without wavering
  • Being ruthless in holding themselves and others to the highest standard possible
  • Being ruthless in knowing that after the final No there is a Yes, upon which the future of progress depends
  • Being ruthless in speaking into no agreement longer than anyone else with no loss of power


I do not mean compassion as a way to undermine, feel bad or as an emotional quality. Rather, I mean it as a way a leader empowers people around them to express their humanity, as well as a way to let their own be present at all times.

As if to say:

  • Compassionately acknowledging people for their contribution
  • Compassionately recognizing people’s uniqueness and diversity
  • Compassionately knowing what it takes for people to change
  • Compassionately appreciating people’s personal sacrifices, no matter how small they may be
  • Compassionately honoring what it is to be a responsible and productive human being

When you look at it from this point of view, this Leadership Law of Attraction is quite extraordinary, indeed. The contradiction disappears and power is present. Even though we as human beings consistently resist being demanded of to be extraordinary and to break through our limitations to make the impossible happen, we can’t forget those experiences. A client once told me, “My boss is as tough as they come, but I love working for him”.

Being in business is about performing. As a startup founder your job as the leader is not to make friends, being admirable nor it is a popularity contest. Your people are not your family, they are your employees, they get paid to do a job and to do it well, at the best of their ability and nothing less. If they succeeded it is on them and if they fail it is on you. Welcome to leadership one-on-one.

Leadership is about creating progress and most of all It is about making money for your stakeholders. It is about building a team that can do anything. And if you make a difference in the world along the way, well it is a bounce. It is about making it to the finish line in one piece.

As a leader, living in that paradox between Ruthlessness and Compassion is magical, and that’s what makes this Law so damn attractive. It makes you better. A true leader knows that.

Do you?