Linkedin Executive Jeff Weiner spoke on CBS about how he started his leadership journey where most begin: ego-centric, expecting others to be like him, which limits organizational success. Can you remember beginning your career journey this way? Developmentally, that’s where we are in our teens and early twenties. (Unfortunately, some leaders linger longer!)

How do you move beyond that to greater results? Milton Bennett describes a cultural journey where we begin with either seeing everyone the same (like us, as Weiner did),  or seeing “others” as less than. Both starting points limit people reaching their potential, as well as organizational success. When you commit to your own development, the journey continues.  Like Weiner, you can reach the point where you can celebrate, integrate and leverage differences with a greater capacity to see things through others’ perspectives, increasing your CQ, Cultural Intelligence.

Even if you are not looking for financial results like Jeff Weiner and Linkedin, this developmental journey will improve relationships at work and at home.

Weiner has evolved to see compassion as a key value, including this ability to see through others’ lens. This journey requires the development of what he refers to as soft skills and what others refer to as EQ and CQ, emotional and cultural intelligence. These require greater self awareness, including self compassion. Linkedin’s recent research shows that communication and other soft skills, not technical skills, are the number one skills gap in the US. He notes that gap can be closed* through the use of trainers and, I add, coaches. 

How are you demonstrating compassion? I offer three steps you can put into place:

  1. I recently shared a “yes, and” approach with a leadership coaching client who was viewing another’s ideas as wrong, which contributed to a strained relationship. “Yes, and” starts with searching for and acknowledging the kernel of truth in the other’s idea and adding to it, as in improv. I also recently heard this as a suggestion for an executive coaching client’s executive presence in a 360 interview. And read about it in HBR today and heard it in a PQ (Positive Intelligence) program I completed. I invite you to experiment and let me know how it works for you!
  2. Start all interactions and conversations with acceptance, seeing the other person as creative, resourceful and whole. If there is conflict and you find that challenging, imagine them as a child when they were innocent and lovable. In our Culturally Intelligent Mentor Coaching + Certificate Program recently we provided feedback to two coaches who demonstrated this in a very tangible way where their clients, who some viewed as challenging, felt safe to explore different perspectives and make progress. Do a self check and with your accountability partners on bias too!
  3. If you do experience someone as challenging, ask yourself “what is the gift that they bring?” Some of the leaders and teams I coach rotate the “devil’s advocate” or “challengers” role. The gift of that role is to bring fresh ideas and perspectives and avoid group think. If that role is not identified as valuable and shared, that person can be perceived as a block to progress and irritating.

Leaders, do you want results like Jeff Weiner and Linkedin through practicing compassion? Coaches, how are you guiding leaders to such success? What kind of results are we talking about? In 2016, Weiner received media attention for donating his $14 million stock bonus to the pool for LinkedIn employees following a drop in share price. During his 11-years as CEO, LinkedIn grew its membership from 33M to more than 690M, increased its revenue from $78M to over $7.9B and expanded the team from 338 employees to over 16,000.

Even if you do not aspire to that level of financial success, with incivility, bullying and costly misunderstandings leading to talent loss on the rise in the workplace, you probably do see the need for increased compassion and improved communication. What are the rewards of committing to this developmental journey? Besides increased prosperity, you can look forward to maintaining your cutting edge, to fulfilling your vision, to increasing your impact. And just listing these values on your company’s website and mission statement are not enough.

How are you developing your EQ, CQ & PQ? How are you practicing compassion?

Leaders, apply for an Unlock Potential Strategy session for a CQ, EQ & PQ checkup.

Coaches, discover how to integrate CQ with coaching competencies for greater impact as well as advancing your ICF credential through our Culturally Intelligent Mentor Coaching + Certificate Program.

To our success-we are in this together!

*Starting in elementary school, through Weiner’s collaboration, The Compassion Project.

Marilyn O’Hearne, MA, MCC

Culturally Intelligent Executive, Leadership, Team and Mentor Coaching; Supervision


First published June 13, 2018 and updated