Carolyn Jenkins is a C-suite technology executive who has had experience managing companies through downturns and her upturns.

In her recent IncubatorCTX Zoom Webinar on April 7th, 2020, she shared her four philosophies that are essential for compassionate leadership.

Carolyn T. Jenkins

1. The Platinum Rule.

The Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

The platinum rule is treating others as they want to be treated.

Carolyn uses a personal example with her mother and her daughter to explain the difference between the golden rule and the platinum rule: Carolyn’s mother likes jewelry, a lot. Carolyn’s daughter does not like jewelry but instead likes outdoor activities like volunteering, sports, and flying. Carolyn’s mother, her daughter’s grandmother, usually gives the granddaughter jewelry, but the granddaughter doesn’t like jewelry and usually hands it to Carolyn because she will never wear it.

If the grandmother considered the platinum rule and gifted the granddaughter with things she would want, it would look more like tickets to a sports game or something that aligns with her interests. This way the granddaughter is excited both when she receives that gift and when she gets to use it and everyone is happy!

The golden rule and platinum rule can be related to a professional work setting as well. Managers who use the golden rule might send everyone the same gift to show their appreciation to employees. To be a compassionate leader, it would be better for the manager to send everyone an individualized item, for example, individual cards for each direct report, an individual gift card that matches the employee, or the manager uses a site where employees can pick their own item.

2. The Law Should Not Be The Bar.

The law is the lowest bar when you’re looking at how you treat people. You need to think about yourself and where your standards are; what’s the best you can do?

There’s a difference between the law and a higher standard. Carolyn gives another personal example of when she has to make the tough decision to lay some people off a few years ago due to a crash in the economy. The law states that employers have 14 days to send COBRA notifications when there is a termination. The letter sent out explain the cost and the timeline to make decisions – but the letter does not help with how to determine if you should use COBRA.

The higher standard would be to give a summary letter to individuals on their last day to better help them navigate what happens after one loses their job. It would also be beneficial to share examples of different scenarios and how they might work with COBRA so that they might understand better how to make the decision whether or not it’s wise for them to use COBRA. You can help them with facts to make those decisions.

Carolyn and her team also made notebooks with summaries for how to use COBRA and instructions on how to apply for unemployment because many of them have never done that. They made it as easy as possible, they did all kinds of things that I did not require, they were very honest and transparent.

So how can you practice holding a higher standard than the laws surrounding the workplace?

  • Understand the law, 
  • Understand procedures related to laws, 
  • Ask a lot of questions, 
  • Put yourself in the shoes of employees, contractors, stakeholders, and customers, 
  • Invest the time to be as helpful as you can be.

3. Your Emotions Matter. 

It’s important to manage your own emotions.

“Worry is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere.“ – Erma Bombeck

It’s important that you take time for yourself. You’re stressed – that’s going to show other people. You’re exhausted – it’s gonna show people you’re not at your personal best. If you’re stressed and exhausted but taking care of yourself and taking time for yourself, it also gives permission to those on your team to take time for themselves.

In the event someone is angry with you and you respond without anger, it can completely change the situation. 

4. Communication Counts.

  • Set clear objectives that are smart and tied to the strategic direction. 
    • Include leading indicator metrics, 
    • It helps the team stay focused, 
    • It helps the teamwork on the right things.
  • Get frequent updates, 
    • They can be short, 
    • It limits uncertainty, 
    • It gives you the opportunity to listen more.
  • Be honest and transparent.
    • If you don’t know – say so.
    • If you can’t say – say that, too.


Written by Hannah Watson



About IncubatorCTX

IncubatorCTX helps startups and early-stage companies grown and succeed. Our goal is to promote innovation and impact in Northwest Austin along the HWY 620 corridor. We are located on the campus of Concordia University Texas amidst 400 acres of Hill country preserve.

IncubatorCTX members have 24/7 access to vibrant co-working space alongside other entrepreneurs. IncubatorCTX is much more than a co-working space; our members also benefit from a network of mentors, entrepreneurial programming, classes, events, and access to faculty and student workers.

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