Compassion at LinkedIn - A Strategic Advantage

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By Scott Shute

LinkedIn’s vision is to create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce. You might be surprised that one of the biggest skills needed to achieve that vision is compassion, and especially compassion in leadership.

At LinkedIn we believe that compassion is not just a better way to live, it’s a better way to build a team, it’s a better way to build and grow a business.

We recently sponsored The Compassion Award and the Compassion in Leadership Summit. We had several hundred entries for the Compassion Award.  Each one was an inspiring display of compassion in leadership.  At the Summit, we brought together hundreds of leaders to discuss how to put compassion into action in our daily lives.  Our goal with these efforts is to foster deeper communication and understanding about compassion, especially the importance of compassion in business. We want to find leaders of all types who are bringing compassion to life. We want to amplify and support their efforts.   

One of the forces that is creating headwinds for our vision is the rise of tribalism. It’s human nature to gravitate towards people who are similar to us in how they look, how they act, and what they believe in. That sense of affiliation creates a sense of belonging and historically helped to keep us safe and feel protected. But there’s a dark downside. 

All these tribes spend too much time thinking about themselves, their own self-interests, and their own belief models. Technology facilitates the divide by making it easier than ever to connect to those who reinforce our own worldview. It’s a vicious cycle: We don’t spend enough time being open and curious about people who are different than us, which drives us even further apart. Applied to the workplace, it can create separation between companies and their customers, and separation between employees.

Compassion can help bridge this gap.

Compassion broadens our focus beyond our own self-interest. Said another way…

Compassion is having an awareness of others,
a mindset of wishing the best for others, 
and the courage to take action. 

When a leader acts compassionately, she is curious, and tries to see things from others’ viewpoints. She has the best intentions for those on the team and takes action to enhance the well-being of all when and where she can. This helps create an environment of psychological safety, which we know is the number one factor in creating successful teams. 

Leading with compassion helps create a culture where employees can do their best work and stay engaged. This last point cannot be overstated. An organization with engaged employees doing their best work creates an incredible strategic advantage.

When a company or organization has compassion in its roots, it will be more aware of the impact that it has on its customers and the world at large. This is good for business, as understanding the needs of customers and providing useful solutions increases the value companies deliver.

A company or organization is really just the sum of its individual members, and each of us plays a part in the world we create. As a planet, we are more interconnected and interdependent today than at any other time in history. Humans of all backgrounds have much more in common than we often admit. We all want to be happy. We all want to be successful. We all want what’s best for our loved ones. When we recognize how we’re similar first, we can then celebrate our differences. When we recognize that our tribe now includes all those that we’re interconnected with, we build solutions that benefit everyone. 

Compassion is not just a feel-good effort.

It’s how we become better leaders. It’s how we build better organizations.  It’s how we build a better world.   

We’re in it together. 

Scott Shute is the Head of Mindfulness and Compassion Programs at Linked In,
 a customer-focused executive, mindfulness leader, and enthusiastic photography nerd. You can follow him on LinkedIn and Instagram (@scottshutephoto). To learn more about Scott, visit his website.

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