Compassionate management: turn frustrations into opportunities [feat: Jeff Weiner]

This article features a piece of advice from Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn CEO. Jeff uses a historical event from his experience to show the power of compassionate management and how it can be a guiding light to managers in the situations when they can be frustrated with their collaborators.

The situation that Jeff witnessed, here presented as the problem, is the story of a boss that started to express his frustration with one of his collaborators. Jeff and other colleagues sensed the boss’s level of frustration expressed via jokes, a raised tone of voice, etc.These kind of situations are not uncommon as we can recognise that at companies.

But the key observation from Jeff relates to his understanding that the situation was undermining the boss “more than anything else.” This is specially tricky because being an spectator in such situations, specially in the fast paced business world — for example when we see a boss yelling at a person —can trigger us to be distracted from the real thing and to jump to conclusions such as to judge one or another with ideas like *That boss is aggressive* or *Indeed that person made a mistake*.

But the look from Jeff is at another layer, he was able to pause the situation; and really looked from the role of preserving the boss’s value beyond anything else, as he asserted the following advice:

The next time you go frustrated with our colleague — rather than making a joke at their expense, rather than express frustration, and raise your voice; you should go find a mirror and yell at yourself. Because that person is in the role as a result of you. It’s your choice whether or not they are doing their job, it’s your choice as to how they approach their job. If you don’t like the way they are doing their job, you can coach them, to do it differently. You can play to their strengths, you can put them in another role; you can transition them out of the company. “ — Jeff Weiner @ Blitzscaling 19, 32min23sec

Jeff’s interpretation, and the way he conducted the situation, is a great example for all of us because a few people have the courage to look from that perspective — a more honest or deep perspective of what was going on. For that beyond anything he had to feel compassion for the boss as well — he knew that the feedback he gave to his boss was actually in fact mainly to support the boss but at the same time to preserve the best for all.

As expected the story ends up nice. Not only that boss recognised the situation but also improved the behavior and expanded the opportunities. But something else is equally amazing explicit in the end of the story — after that observation and reflection Jeff caught himself doing the sort of same thing in another situation. Thus, besides the fundamental points of compassionate management, this story shows how important is for all of us to keep reinforcing good behaviors and practices. It’s via exercising that we can help our peers and ourselves to abide to what is very important.

Keywords

Compassionate management, Fred Koffman (Conscious Business), Greylock, Reid Hoffman, compassion, management, HR.

References

2015 Greylock. Blitzscaling 19: Jeff Weiner on Establishing a Plan and Culture for Scaling. Published on Dec 8, 2015, available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYN3ghAam14