You probably have heard about compassion. The new ”trend” in leadership. BUT, is it really a trend? And even moreso, is it really new?
A great talk from Jeff Weiner, the CEO of LinkedIn inspired this blog. Even it required some expanding of my comfort zone, to watch Oprah show… The problem is not with Oprah, but my prejudice of her show. I am very grateful, that I got directed to watch this discussion. You might wonder, what did Jeff have to say? It was about his path to a leader who gets 100% positive feedback from his employees. And delivers exceptional business results. And fires people once in a while? And is advocating compassion as the key element of leadership. How can these truly be connected? Is Jeff some kind of super hero?
The fundamental to remember is, that he has built a very successful and profitable business. And with elements, that are applicable to every business and achievable by you and me as well as they were by him. So, what is the secret recipe? The answer is frightening simple, it is about daring to see what the mirror shows you. And asking yourself is your thinking of what you see true? Really true? And then asking yourself how can you improve that in order to get the best out of everyone? And then taking the steps required. Jeff was not born like that. Very few of us are, yet many get there. So it is about something, you can do / learn! And that will bring you great results. With great results I mean results that make you feel great. Just watch the video, and you will understand the true greatness! And success is the outcome of greatness. But, like for Jeff, it requires seeing, accepting, practicing and improving. For the rest of your life.
Should we all become Jeff, copy what he did? The answer is no, absolutely not! We have different history and goals. So a copy would not be real. The process is something, that we can, and should, copy. The tough part is, that it starts with mistakes. Only when you understand that you are making mistakes (Jeff still is), you can start to learn. We really should re-name mistakes, they are sparkles of learning. Accepting and sharing, becoming vulnerable, is the most precious gift we can give our selves. Because that is when we start to build strength instead of shields.
Jeff had been the typical dynamic leader who delivers results. There were couple of events, that kind of got him to stop. He had a manager, who wasn’t doing well in leading people. One day he realized, that the behavior of that manager appeared also in his own behavior. Even he had talked about that mis-behavior with the manager. The second one is the classic one. Wife, who made him to look at what, and why, is really important. And that started his journey to learn to become better with people! The importance is in the difference between management and leading; manager gives a task, leader inspires to complete the task.
So, Jeff does it, compassion in leading people. I asked in the beginning if this is a trend, if this is new. Actually, compassion was the first tool of successful leaders thousands of years ago. A very recent study has explained, why overwhelming military power seldom wins a small army protecting their homes. Compassion is about having a strong emotional connection and meaning. Compassion is about wanting something good for others. When you study Sun Tzu, the great war lords, change making political figures etc. you always find compassion. They all have wanted to give something special and valuable to other people. Their greatness was the outcome of the other people’s actions! The 21st century work life makes these skills the core competences!
You need to understand compassion correctly. It is not about being soft on people, letting people get away with poor performance. Compassion is about understanding how people feel, what they feel and supporting them so that the entity feels better. That means helping people to live and work to their fullest potential. And it means accepting, that there are times and situations, when the best solution for a person is to move on. It is not about being mean or rough, it is about helping people to see the best way forward. Compassionate leaders understand themselves very well. Like Jeff has learnt to do. They see over the moment, what is the really best solution in the big picture. And they help people to go to that solution. They also understand, that there are times, when their moving on is the best solution.
Having studied the best workplaces, having implemented change in a number of organisations and processes, people’s emotions and feeling have proven to be the key. The key to success in well being and business. As Jeff talks, it all starts from one self. You need to see what you are, where your behavior really comes from. That is about learning how your emotional intelligence is built, how it has been leading you. And then you can start to lead yourself to become the best you can be. The rewards are delivered to you at work, at home and between your ears!
With a history of over a thousand people, I know that Emotional Intelligence test gives one mirrors, most of us don’t even know can exist. Mirrors then help us to take the next steps. This has happened to Jeff, but also to Matti Alahuhta (former CEO of Kone), Tina Turner, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Barack Obama etc. They are the differentiating elements, which have given these people ways to reach their full potential.
Compassion, mindfulness, emotional intelligence, meditation are all ”hype” right now. They are important, but only because we’ve been distracted by the industrial revolution for couple of hundred years. The good news is, that we don’t have to learn the long way, we now have tools to learn the effective way. Are you ready for taking the first step for better life?