Lessons Learned: LinkedIn’s CEO Jeff Weiner on how to build better companies with compassion

In today’s unpredictable times we are forced to be isolated yet we are still interconnected in many ways. It has made us slow down, be mindful, become more self-aware, and reflect on what it is to be human. More importantly, we have torn down the walls we have built up and are having open conversations about our emotional needs and frustrations. Creating a healthy culture has become vital for companies and employees today to be able to grow sustainably. Therefore, business leaders are coming together to help people with their mental health and lead with compassion.

In a recent article from Wharton’s graduation speech, LinkedIn’s Jeff Weiner tells us, “Managing compassionately is not just a better way to build a team, it’s a better way to build a company.” He shares his personal experiences that shaped him to realize the importance of compassion on your company, your career path, and your life. “I wasn’t particularly compassionate until the latter stage of my career. I’d listen with the intent to reply and not seek to understand. I expected other people to do things the way I did.” He says. After shutting people down rather than inspiring them he realized this approach backfired and decided to change. 

 

 

According to a Gartner HR survey only about half of the employees (49%) agree their managers understand their problems and needs. The key is for companies to understand every individual is unique and will have their own ways to react to situations. Companies approaching people with compassion rather than a cookie-cutter approach will have teams that are more productive, creative, and engaged with one another. Whilst there is support all around us, some communities struggle to communicate openly about mental health, especially in Asia mainly due to stigma and lack of resources. 

As Emma Seppala, science director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism, says in her recent article “compassionate, friendly and supportive co-workers tend to build higher-quality relationships with others at work. In doing so, they boost coworkers’ productivity levels and increase feelings of social connection as well as a commitment to the workplace.” Some employees may deal with self-criticism, the feeling of not feeling good enough or smart enough due to conformity, not fitting in the box, failure to meet targets, or job loss to name a few. Therefore, business leaders should realize the importance of compassion to workplace success and motivation.

Practicing self-love, self-acceptance, positive affirmations, and being kind to ourselves is crucial to thrive at work, in our lives, and build better relationships with ourselves and others. Moreover, business leaders and employers that normalize conversations about mental health, personalization, seeing failure as a learning opportunity, and a stepping stone to success can see their employees grow and reach their highest potential, especially during these turbulent times. A recent article by McKinsey states “Four qualities – awareness, vulnerability, empathy, compassion – are critical for business leaders to care for people in crisis and set the stage for business recovery”

 

 

Here are five ways to build compassionate leadership into your organization: 

1.Practice self-awareness

As Dr. Travis Bradbery, author of emotional intelligence 2.0 describes “self-awareness as one of the core components of emotional intelligence and our ability to recognize and understand emotions in yourself and others.”  So by practicing a simple 5-10 minute breathing and journaling exercise including writing down affirmations, gratitude, visualizations help us to have a clearer mind and make better decisions. Making time to take care of our minds can help change behaviors, keep us feeling more positive and improve work productivity.

The ongoing impacts of the pandemic have emotionally overwhelmed everyone, we can stabilize by starting to be more aware of our emotional, mental, and physical needs. We are then able to monitor what’s happening within and around us. By building journaling and breathing habits every day, we can assess patterns in our behaviors, manage our thought processes, emotional triggers, and how we respond in the future.

2.Understand & Empathize 

Taking time to understand the other person’s perspective is key to building better relationships whether at work or home. Rather than being stubborn and set in their own ways, compassionate leaders understand that there is always something they can learn from another person by adopting a growth mindset. More importantly, leaders will have to understand and learn about each team member’s behavior patterns to be able to communicate more effectively with one another. 

3.Be Vulnerable 

While we navigate through the new normal it’s how we actively support each other out of suffering, how we communicate openly about our challenges, and then take proactive action to ultimately make the community we work in happier and healthier. Leaders who communicate openly about their personal fears, challenges, doubts, and visions create a culture of trust and acceptance. It allows teams to feel an emotional connection and sense of belonging to the community they are part of. By being authentic and transparent about their feelings, leaders treat employees as friends and partners. As Brene Brown, an expert on social connection describes, “vulnerability and authenticity as lying at the root of human connection.” 

3.Develop an Interest in the other person  

Leaders that take the time to build relationships with their employees will be the ones that will succeed and build a healthy culture. Compassionate leaders show a genuine interest in another person by learning about them, they also take the initiative to make them feel seen and heard in small ways such as showing appreciation, gratitude, or publicly acknowledging their efforts.  

4.Take Well-being Breaks 

Whether it is at the beginning of the day, lunch break, or at the end of the day, taking a quick 5-15 minute break and practicing mindfulness will go a long way. Incorporating mindfulness techniques, breathing exercises, sound healing or walks can shift the mind and body into a calm vibrational balance. Mindfi’s app has several guided mindfulness and focuses exercises you can use anytime to improve your mental focus or just relax. According to an article by Healthline, mindful apps have science-based health benefits such as controlling anxiety, improving memory, and helping lower depression to name a few.  

Conclusion

The future will present constant changes at a rapid pace and with that companies will have to adapt accordingly to be successful in the long run. Today’s workplace culture has changed and with that our mindsets have shifted to looking at growing together rather than looking at it from a top-down approach. With working remotely being the new normal, business leaders need to take a proactive approach to support the wellbeing of their people and empower them to become the best versions of themselves. On the other hand, we need to have positive beliefs, attitudes, and energy to thrive in life. Lastly, employers & HR leaders that put themselves in the shoes of individual team members with the desire to relieve their pain will have happy employees. 

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