LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner’s leadership skills are being put to the test.
The company’s stock fell 40% and the company lost $10 billion off its market capitalisation last month when its Q4 earnings report fell short of expectations.
In an interview Sunday with Bloomberg’s Emily Chang, he explained that he considers the stock plunge to have been an inevitable market correction and that he’s keeping employees focused on their mission and on increases in user growth and engagement. If anything, he told Chang, the challenge has brought employees closer together to prove critics wrong.
His approach is an extension of what he calls “compassionate management,” and he said that it developed it as he matured as an executive at Yahoo, learning from his mistakes.
“I find that taking the time to understand what it is you’re trying to accomplish and how I can help you works better than projecting my own world view onto you,” Weiner told Chang. “And I think that’s a mistake that a lot of younger, less experienced executives make. That was certainly a mistake that I made.”
He explained that expecting your employees to see things exactly as you do is setting you up for “nothing but frustration.”
“Compassionate management is just putting yourself in the other person’s shoes, understanding their perspective,” Weiner said. “And classically defined, you do that for the sake of alleviating somebody’s suffering. But more broadly defined, within a work environment, it doesn’t need to be limited to alleviating suffering. It can be whenever I’m in a position where I can help you.”
Chang noted that CEOs like the late Steve Jobs and Elon Musk have a reputation for being ruthless, but Weiner didn’t consider that a contradiction of his point.
“I think different styles work or different people, work for different companies, work for different situations,” he said. The worst thing he thinks a manager can do is emulate a successful person’s approach in a way that’s put on.
Whether managers take a colder or more gentle approach, what matters most is that they are authentic, Weiner said.
The “compassion” comes in understanding that their team members don’t necessarily see the world the same way they do, and then making an effort to listen and understand rather than dictate.
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