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A top LinkedIn exec says the Dalai Lama parable CEO Jeff Weiner told him at their first meeting changed his management style

Source | Business Insider

Mike Gamson is one of LinkedIn’s top executives.

As the SVP of Global Solutions, Gamson is in charge of the global talent, marketing, sales, and learning teams, making him responsible for about half of LinkedIn’s roughly 10,000 employees. He works closely with CEO Jeff Weiner.

Gamson told Business Insider that he follows Weiner’s philosophy of “compassionate leadership” very closely, but his first meeting with Weiner, he didn’t know what to expect.

It was the end of 2008, and LinkedIn founder and chairman Reid Hoffman had replaced his chief executive Dan Nye with Weiner, who had been an EVP at Yahoo. Nye was a close friend, mentor, and former boss to Gamson, and had recruited him to the professional social network company a year earlier.

On top of that, Gamson was dealing with the stress of a new baby at home coupled with constant cross-country travel. “So when I flew in to meet Jeff, it was actually a pretty emotional time for me,” Gamson told Business Insider.

When he walked into Weiner’s office, he said, it still felt like it was Nye’s. He didn’t know how their conversation would play out.

After a warm greeting, Weiner asked him what type of leader he aspired to be.

“I said, ‘An empathetic leader,'” Gamson said. “I’d been working on empathy. And he said, ‘Why empathy and not compassion?'” Gamson admitted to Weiner he didn’t know the nuances of the definitions enough to give an adequate answer.

That’s when Weiner told a parable told by the Dalai Lama. While that may sound like a stereotypical Silicon Valley CEO move, the ensuing two-hour conversation fundamentally changed the way Gamson would go on to manage.

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