Princess Diana

The Compassionate Leader

“This is me, this is me!” exclaimed Princess Diana when she read Dr. Keirsey’s portrait of the Idealist Healer (INFP). In 1991, her masseur, Stephen Twigg, had given her a copy of, Please Understand Me, and the Princess was said to have been astonished and amazed by the portrait’s accuracy. Taking the Keirsey Temperament Sorter it confirmed what Diana had known by her intuition, that her gift was that of a Healer. Diana, and other Idealist Healers are what we call the Compassionate Leader. Her compassion fueled her to regularly visit with those who were in greatest need—the disenfranchised, sick, lonely, disabled, dying, hurting, abused, and neglected. This is where her heart resided. In speaking about her visits, she once said, “I make the trips at least three times a week, and spend up to four hours at a time with patients holding their hands and talking to them. Some of them will live and some will die, but they all need to be loved while they are here. I try to be there for them.” She is a fine example of a Compassionate Leader, and there is a lot we can learn from her.

Compassionate Leaders seek to understand the real needs of the disenfranchised.

She had the title, “Princess of Wales” but she did not consider her status as something to hold onto, but rather, she became a servant to humanity. She was bestowed with extravagant gifts, and was seen by the world as living the fairy tale life. Yet, in all that she had, she found far more fulfillment to be in the hospitals, orphanages, and the centers of disease and disabilities, where the disenfranchised had been abandoned. In commenting about her visits to hospitals, she said, “I want to walk into a room, be it a hospital for the dying or a hospital for the sick children, and feel that I am needed. I want to do, not just to be.” She believed that it was her calling in life, stating, “Nothing brings me more happiness than trying to help the most vulnerable people in society. It is a goal and an essential part of my life—a kind of destiny. Whoever is in distress can call on me. I will come running wherever they are.” She knew her path. She said, “I knew what my job was: it was to go out and meet the people and love them.”

Compassionate Leaders gain perspective on the natural order of the human condition.

Princess Diana saw beyond status, title, rank, and privilege. She saw beyond poverty, disease, death, and disability. She saw that the world was full of people with intrinsic value. She said, “The biggest disease this day and age is that of people feeling unloved.” As Princess, she saw her role as an opportunity to bring awareness to issues, which were closest to her heart. She wanted to reveal the true nature of the human condition to the world. She played the role of dignitary, while she gave herself to humanitarian work—and with sweetness she inspired others to pay attention. On a single day, she sat with royalty and riches and then engaged with the forgotten and marginalized. Popes, palaces, princes, and princesses, were her audience, but the misfortunate misfit was where she gave all of her love. She used her position and power to provide perspective on the human condition. Even as a mother, she has said, “I want my boys to have an understanding of people’s emotions, their insecurities, people’s distress, and their hopes and dreams.”

Compassionate Leaders express themselves through their unique gifts and abilities.

Diana began working with children as a nursery assistant at the Young England School. It was evident that she had an unusual ability with children. She had a history of shyness, but found quiet ways to express herself through music as an accomplished pianist and in dance as a ballerina. She also excelled in swimming and diving and enjoyed hobbies like tennis, skiing, and tap dancing. She displayed leadership ability by playing many roles as presidents of various organizations in her teenage years. Though few in words, she found connection with others through her various involvements in these interests and hobbies. Diana always saw herself as someone who forged her own way, “I like to be a free spirit. Some don’t like that, but that’s the way I am,” Diana said. Although she knew how to take on traditional roles, she carried her obligations lightly. She has said, “I don’t go by the rule book… I lead from the heart, not the head.” She led authentically, never violating her core nature. This was her strength, and it is what made her so impactful.

Compassionate Leaders learn to codify their contemplations.

“I don’t just want to be a name on a letter head,” she said. “I’d like to be a queen of people’s hearts,” were famous words of hers. Words were significant for Diana. She took her contemplations and made powerful statements, which carried weight. She knew the power of an encouraging word, the meaningfulness of heartfelt appeals. She knew how to respond to other’s negative remarks and the obligating effect of words as well. In their wedding vows, the commitment for a wife to “obey” was taken out at the couple’s request, inviting scrutiny at the time. When the Queen disapproved of her visitation with those infected with HIV and leprosy, remarking that the Princess ought to do “something more pleasant” with her charity work; Diana responded, “HIV does not make people dangerous to know. You can shake their hands and give them a hug. Heaven knows they need it.” Diana was generally a quiet soul, her contemplations were deep, and on occasion, they came out in words, and when they did, they mattered in the eyes of many.

Compassionate Leaders engage in authentic connection with their followers.

“It’s vital the monarchy keeps in touch with the people. It’s what I try and do.” For Diana, above all else, she desired to connect. No matter where she went, she was celebrated and loved because of how genuine she was. She was referred to as the “people’s princess,” and has said, “The kindness and affection from the public have carried me through some of the most difficult periods, and always your love and affection have eased the journey.” World leaders like Nelson Mandela, have said, “Caring for people who are dying and helping the bereaved was something for which Diana had passion and commitment.” She also formed strong personal connections with people like Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II. Her unexpected death brought statements from many world dignitaries, and people left all kinds of warm messages and symbolic memorabilia outside the palace for several months. Her brother said of her, “She proved in the last year that she needed no royal title to continue to generate her particular brand of magic.”