Empathetic CEO Reputation Rising
I did not expect to hear that Angela Ahrendts, former CEO of Burberry and soon to be retail chief at Apple, talk in an interview how when she started at Burberry, she focused on empathy and trust as the keys to building Burberry’s culture. In the interview, Ahrendts says about those days, “It’s compassion. It’s humility. It’s saying thank you. It is always putting yourself in the other person’s position. I know it might sound weird, but empathy is one of the greatest creators of energy. It’s counterintuitive, because it’s selfless.” Her father instilled the notion of humility in her when he asked her as a little girl, “When you look at a photo, do you see yourself last?” I wonder how many people actually see themselves last but she seems to be one of those people.
At Burberry, Ahrendts communicated often. She regularly emailed to employees and visited offices and stores around the globe. I liked her idea of a weekly video update to employees. Sounds like an inclusive leader. She will be one of the few female leaders at Apple so will be one to watch.
Empathy. Humility. Compassion. Generosity. All these terms are increasingly showing up in features on CEOs. Is something up? Is climate change impacting CEO brains? Something is taking root and I will be tracking it. However, curious if anyone of this “soft” talk is coming out of this week’s World Economic Forum. Hmmmm.