Businesses can be successful without compassion.
Managers can yell at employees and belittle them. Steve Jobs was notorious in his early years for berating his employees. A high turnover, toxic workplace, can lead to a successful company. However, you can also succeed while being decent humans. We ascribe ourselves to a higher standard.
Startups are hard. As with any high performing team, everyone at Ender could be working somewhere else. We want to enjoy our work and the people we work with. One way we nurture this is by hiring for compassion. A company can encourage compassion, but the team has to embrace it.
There are plenty of aberrant geniuses in the tech world. We’re ok with difficult personalities. We’re not ok with those who derive pleasure from co-workers failing. We want people who root for their colleagues to succeed.
Compassion promotes unity. Doing a favor for someone makes you like them more. This is how we want our culture to work. We should enjoy doing small favors for each other and helping each other succeed.
Compassion is necessary for our belief in minimum viable structure. It promotes effective communication and collaboration, which is beneficial in problem-solving and decision making. A culture of compassion helps a company achieve its goals in a more sustainable, ethical way.
It’s easier to nurture a culture of compassion at a startup as our incentives are aligned. The team has equity. When the company succeeds, we’ll be associated with its success with the added bonus of upside.
Success and integrity are not exclusive. It’s actually easier to excel in business by being a good actor.
One of Andrew Carnegie’s rivals was dealing with a labor strike. His competitor offered wages higher than any Carnegie was offering. Carnegie asked the workers why they didn’t accept his competitor’s terms. The workers told Carnegie that they’d gladly accept lesser terms from him, but his competitor didn’t respect them.
Carnegie realized that less than half the disputes were about wages. It was about respect and the kind treatment of team members. The American worker is a person who sits down with someone and has a discussion.
As Jobs aged and matured, he changed the way he managed. He decided to take a longer term view on people, and it made him the legend we still revere today.
The sportsmanship of an individual athlete doesn’t make them a better or worse competitor. But all else equal, a team united with a positive culture of sportsmanship will crush a team of assholes.
We want others rooting for our success. We should consider all stakeholders. Our allies should be proud.
There are competent assholes. We don’t subject ourselves to working with them. There are enough extremely talented, compassionate people out there to make any company work. We screen for the rare mix of passion and kindness.