Before LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner became such a vocal proponent of “compassionate management,” he once sat in a series of fateful meetings where an uncomfortable scene would play out. It’s a scenario many workers will recognize: a manager expresses his or her staffing frustrations by undermining the employee in question and making passive-aggressive comments at the employee’s expense.
Sharing his story with Oprah about one such meeting, Weiner says that the frustrations of this particular manager were getting to him ― and, likely, the entire team. So, knowing how damaging the situation could be for morale, Weiner took the opportunity to speak with the manager privately.
“We would have one-on-ones every now and again, and I said, ‘Hey, I’ve got to give you some feedback,’” Weiner says. “I said, ‘The next time you feel like making a joke at this person’s expense or you get frustrated and let them know in front of all of us, you should go find a mirror and express that frustration to yourself. Because you’re the reason they’re in the role.’”
What Weiner then suggested to the manager is something that anyone in charge of a staff could benefit from keeping in mind.
“If you don’t like the way they’re doing the job, take the time to coach them. If they’re not capable of doing the job the way you believe they should be able to do the job, find another role for them. And if that’s not going to work out, then transition them, and do it in a way that’s compassionate and constructive,” he says.
After that talk, the manager ended up thanking Weiner, whose advice had helped tremendously. That’s when Weiner had an epiphany of his own.
“I realized I was doing the exact same thing to someone on my team,” Weiner admits. “The exact same thing.”
In that moment, the executive made himself a promise that has led to his deep devotion to compassionate management.
“I kind of vowed that for as long as I was going to be responsible for managing other people, I was going to aspire to manage compassionately, where I wasn’t necessarily trying to have them do things the way I did them,” he says. “I was putting myself in their shoes, understanding what motivated them ― their hopes, their dreams, their fears ― and try to lead as effectively as possible.”
Jeff Weiner’s full interview airs this weekend’s “SuperSoul Sunday,” Sept. 18, at 11 a.m. ET on OWN. You can also watch the most recent full episodes for a limited time on SuperSoul.tv, or catch up on past full episodes on demand via the Watch OWN app.
Another game-changing moment for Weiner: