On May 13th, 2018, Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, spoke to the graduation class of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. In his speech, he highlighted that the secret to his success, and the model that propelled him to where he stands now, is compassion.
Weiner broke it down this way:
“I vowed that as long as I’d be responsible for managing other people, I would aspire to manage compassionately. That meant pausing, and being a spectator to my own thoughts, especially when getting emotional. It meant walking a mile in the other person’s shoes; and understanding their hopes, their fears, their strengths and their weaknesses. And it meant doing everything within my power to set them up to be successful.”
Mr. Weiner’s compassion-focused approach to business struck a chord with us at FPC. As recruiters, we attribute our 60 years of success to the philosophy that people are the main drivers of our growth. We recognize and appreciate the value that each employee contributes to the success of our firm, and we understand that job seekers are people first, applicants second. We believe that a people-centered business model and a compassionate approach to commerce should be a priority for any leader who desires long-term success and productive relationships with others.
Compassion and Building Business Success
In his speech, Weiner made the point that compassion is exemplified by the wholehearted investment in the success of others. Compassionate leaders understand this and strive to create an environment that fosters skill development, professional growth, and advancement for everyone in the organization. Effective leaders understand that they stand on the shoulders of all their workforce, and if their employees don’t feel valued, everyone suffers.
One of the reasons that compassion works so well as a business model is because it fosters trust, confidence, and authenticity. If everyone on your team trusts and relies on each other, then they are able to create a cohesive work culture that promotes collaboration, open communication, and mutual respect. When there is internal trust, people make better decisions faster and they are not bogged down by competition, doubt, fear, and conflict.
Weiner describes the culture at LinkedIn as one “where people take the time to understand the other person’s perspective, and not assume nefarious intention; build trust; and align around a shared mission.” Compassion is the strongest bridge for building a community of active caring and respect in a business.
Pressure Does Not Inspire
Though every workplace will have challenges, leaders who use threats, demands, and pressure-filled tactics are sabotaging their company. Workplace stress does not increase productivity; it does, however, increase the chances that employees will seek out other opportunities. No one thrives under constant anxiety.
In addition to establishing trust, building a culture of compassion at your workplace also means that everyone is empowered to grow and that they will more likely have a positive influence on their coworkers. Leaders can learn from employees and employees can learn from leaders. Everyone is continually contributing value to one another.
Contrary to popular belief, compassion in the workplace is not synonymous with having no boundaries or rules. Rather, compassion inspires more engagement and productivity within the framework of established policies and objectives; and work inspired by compassion will always be better than work produced under intense pressure. People strive for a higher level of quality when motivated by a desire to produce something of value.
There is a place for compassion in business, and we should all be working to make that place larger. True growth can only come from compassion and action driven by it. When leaders, employees, and consumers treat one another like human beings, everybody wins.
As we like to say at FPC: It’s all about the people!
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