Leader's job is to help people grow as humans

Hi! My name is Miia. I’m a compassion researcher inspired by the positive organizational aim of helping leaders to see possibilities for greatness in people and teams.

Empathy, compassion, and emotions at work

Organizations affect our well-being and the way we live, interact, and perform. Too often the impact is negative eating up our creativity, trust, collaboration, and health, or even our identity.

In right kinds of environments people and creativity flourish naturally. As humans we are born to collaborate, feel empathy, and to give and serve others. Emotions fuel everything we do from decision-making and thinking to self-confidence and openness to other people. Our deep need is to feel connection.

As leaders we need to better understand how to build organizations and cultures that constructively give room for empathy, compassion, and emotions, and that actively create opportunities to feel connection. It is in these environments that humans feel safe to share ideas, ask questions, ask for help, offer help, innovate, take risks, and try again after failing. Organizations building these kinds of cultures give rise to creativity, trust, healthy collaboration, well-being, and positive identities.

Our book on compassion – The Revolutionary Power of Compassion – was published on October 10th 2017. This is the first Finnish science-based book on compassion at work. Pessi, A. B.; Martela, F. & Paakkanen, M. 2017 (eds.). The Revolutionary Power of Compassion. Jyväskylä: PS.

Read my blog on the topic: What should our bosses and teachers understand if they were to expect creativity and high-performance?

Copassionate and compassionate leadership (20min)

At Finlandia Hall in Helsinki, Finland in Sept 2016

What is copassion? What is compassion? 
Why copassion and compassion? 
Three concrete tools for a leader.
See at 1:14:43 (this talk is in Finnish)

Transforming business through compassion (22min)

At Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden in Nov 2015

Why compassion at work? 2min 14s.
What is compassion? 2min 17s.
How does an organization benefit from compassion? 1min 59s.
What is the emotion skills training like? 1min 39s
What kinds of results can we expect? 3min 33s.

Column for Helsinki Design Week (HDW). HDW is the largest design festival in the Nordics.

“Compassion is our greatest super power.” I share five researched tips to increase our own and others’ happiness.

Live radio interview with Riku and Tunna from Docventures, National radio Yle:

“Compassion is empathy in action, and empathy can be learned. Compassion creates higher quality connection with people, and improves our health, motivation as well as organizational outcomes.”

The Finnish Financial Times magazine reviewed our book: “The soft nonsense is after all pretty critical stuff.”

National Yle News: How do you react when your colleague shares good news?

“We’ve lost touch with the true nature of human beings. We’ve built rewarding systems that no longer work. As we are moving to team-based work, we become dependent on our capability to feel empathy and act compassionately.”

Article for Economy & Moral (2016):

“Toward a more humane work life”

Interview for HelsinkiMissio p.7-9:

“The extreme self-centeredness and emotional isolation cause damage both to human minds and organizations.”

Live TV show Docventures, National TV YLE Tv2

Conversation about compassion with Riku Rantala, Tunna Milonoff, Anna Rotkirch and Kimmo Oksanen.

Interview for National YLE News, 28.5.2017: “There is more demand for emotion skills at work now than ever. There’s at least three reasons for this, says Miia Paakkanen”

Our article reviewed in the Finnish Financial Times (Taloussanomat):

“The new book criticizes business executives: Finland won’t succeed without autonomy supportive motivation and compassion.”

Hi! I’m happy you’re visiting my website. Let me know who you are and what you are passionate about.

For me my passion and mission is to help build healthy collaboration and interaction, which I believe to be one of the corner stones of human well-being and organizational flourishing. One important arena for this mission is work. I believe that organizations ranging from education and business to healthcare and politics can help realize this mission on a great scale. There’s a lot to be done, but every small act counts. And the impact is contagious.

I am a Positive Organizational Scholarship (POS) and Positive Psychology (PP) researcher and practitioner. My background is in Business, and I am working at the Theology Department at University of Helsinki and as a visiting researcher at Stanford University School of Medicine. I am working on my PhD titled In Search of Compassionate Mindset, and I have co-founded an international, multidisciplinary research project called CoPassion, the Revolutionary Power of Compassion, that received nearly 2M euro funding to study compassion at work.

Along with research I work with companies, leaders, and teams to help create work environments where people feel motivated to grow and learn, engage, exceed expectations sustainably, and experience a sense of meaning. In academia I teach my Leadership course called Humane Work Life – Leading Well-Being and Performance. The course draws from POS and PP, which in Finland are new academic fields that I hope to help make it into the curriculum of Finnish universities too.

I am learning more every day about the critical ingredients and mechanisms of sustainable and most successful teamwork and leadership, and I want to see us work together to help the future organizations embrace them.

With #compassion and #copassion, Miia

Let me know how I can help


Hi! Let me know who you are and how I can help you. I’d love to hear from you.