Donato Tramuto is a Compassionate Leadership Activist, Global Health Advocate, former CEO of Tivity Health, Founder of the Tramuto Porter Foundation, and author of a second book - ‘The Double Bottom Line: How Compassionate Leaders Captivate Hearts and Deliver Results.’
Donato believes that employees, consumers, and stakeholders are demanding that employers take care of their people, their communities, and the world around them. There’s a strong imperative for employers to focus on their people as well as on profit, and, Donato maintains, by focussing on their people they will actually strengthen their bottom line.
Donato lost most of his hearing when he was eight years of age. And for nearly ten years he was to all intents and purposes deaf. In consequence he was bullied at school and at home. His sister-in-law died in childbirth and his brother and nephew died in a car accident. Two close friends and their child lost their lives on 9/11. The experience of these tragedies has given Donato a degree of insight into the sufferings of others.
Donato believes compassion to be a driver of success: greater employee involvement leads to improved productivity, and better employer and manager wellbeing, and morale.
His book is underpinned by interviews with 41 global leaders, and a survey of 1,500 US employees.
Donato maintains that the idea that compassionate leadership is weak leadership is a myth. His model of compassionate leadership is based on the three ‘t’s of tenderness, trust, and tenacity. In the absence of trust, tough decisions meet with resistance. Gaining trust involves listening to understand.
Donato would propose to dispense with the word “feedback”, which he feels has negative connotations. He prefers “constructive insight” and moreover would always ask permission of the employee before providing it.
Donato says vulnerability is “a significant quality associated with compassionate leadership.” He didn’t embrace it fully until 2014, when he received a Robert F Kennedy “Ripple of Hope Award” and took the opportunity to acknowledge that he was gay and had been in a partnership for 25 years.
He launched two not-for-profit foundations in response to the loss of his friends aboard United flight 175 on 9/11. The Tramuto-Porter Foundation helps disadvantaged children pursue a college education. In 2011 Donato initiated Healthy Villages, which provides medical devices to populations that have compromised access to healthcare.
Donato’s book has been well received in the US, which he believes reflects “a thirst for new leadership” and also the situation of many people as the US emerges from the pandemic, for example loneliness is “the new chronic condition of the 21st Century.”
Donato is engaged in a dialogue with Boston University School of Public Health who are planning to base a curriculum on the book. Like Stephen Trzeciak, a former guest on the Compassionate Leadership Interview, he believes compassion can and should be taught.
Two people who have inspired Donato on his journey are Pope John Paul II and Robert F Kennedy. He says they both demonstrated that life is not about doing great things, but about doing small things that have the capacity to generate great change.
A book that Donato would recommend to aspiring leaders is ‘The Seven-Storey Mountain’ by Thomas Merton.
Donato considers self-care is first and foremost about a sense of fulfilment, which in turn arises from the love, joy, and peace one finds in serving others.
His advice to his 20-year-old self would be “never ever forfeit the opportunity to build a relationship with someone” and “be yourself… it’s a lot easier.”