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Maintenance Worker, Cemetery Division: On Digging Graves and Being Compassionate

Teaching Case

Daniel Hodges and Ryan Quinn
University of Louisville College of Business
Date of Publication: 2020
Leadership topics: Compassion
Product number:  (to be assigned)
Industry: Government
Pages: 4


This case details Daniel’s experience working as a maintenance worker in a cemetery for a summer job. To his surprise, what he thought was a manual labor job involved many interactions that required compassion. Also to his surprise, he found it harder to exhibit such compassion as the summer went on. This case provides details about Daniel’s experiences. It allows readers to examine and discuss why compassion became so difficult, when any why they might have similar experiences, and what they can do about it. 


  • Starter content: This case is useful for teaching positive leadership because it helps people to explore the question of why we do not feel compassion in circumstances in which it would seem natural to feel compassion, and what we can do in such situations. Given that positive leadership begins when people exhibit virtue with an excellence that exceeds what a person would have exhibited if he or she had been conforming to convention, what do you do if you can’t even seem to exhibit the virtue at a conventional level? 
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