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Uber’s CEO Sent a Powerful Email to Employees After the Company’s Stock Took a Dive

Uber's CEO taught a master class in emotionally intelligent leadership--in a few, short paragraphs.

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J. Barande, Public Domain
J. Barande, Public Domain

Recently, after months of preparation, Uber became a public company. It was one of the most anticipated entries into the stock market in the past decade.

And it was a a big disappointment.

The tech giant closed day one of trading below its initial public offering price of $45. Things only got worse as the stock continued to slide.

This astonishing turn of events had great potential to rattle Uber employees, many of whom were likely second guessing the company’s direction. Those employees needed reassurance more than ever, confirmation that they’re on the right path.

They needed someone to step up and lead–and that’s exactly what their CEO did.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi sent out a companywide email yesterday, and its message is remarkable. (You can read the email in full at the end of this piece.) In effect, Khosrowshahi rallied his troops, inspiring them to stay on course.

Simply put, Uber’s CEO managed to teach a master class in emotionally intelligent leadership–in a few, short paragraphs.

Let’s analyze some of the key lines of Khosrowshahi’s email, and see what lessons we can glean.

It was quick.

I’m looking forward to being in front of you at the All Hands tomorrow, but I wanted to send you a quick note in the meantime.

Although Khosrowshahi had a company-wide meeting scheduled just one day later, he knew that every second counts in a moment of intense pressure. By sending out a message without delay, he helped calm employee nerves and provide focus.

Takeaway: When bad things happens, your team needs to know that you have things under control–the sooner, the better.

It was direct and honest.

Like all periods of transition, there are ups and downs. Obviously our stock did not trade as well as we had hoped post-IPO. Today is another tough day in the market, and I expect the same as it relates to our stock.

Khosrowshahi didn’t try to sugarcoat the situation, or present it as less than serious. Instead, he immediately addressed the elephant in the room and even acknowledged his own disappointment.

Takeaway: In a situation like this, it’s natural that your people feel discouraged. By reminding them that this is OK–and that you’re with them–you help them work through those feelings, brace up for what’s coming, and move forward.

It reaffirms the plan.

But it is essential for us to keep our eye on the long-term value of Uber for our customers, partners, drivers and investors.

… We will make certain that we communicate our incredible value as a company that is changing the way the world moves, but also the value that we are building for our owners. But there is one simple way for us to succeed–focus on the work at hand and execute against our plans effectively.

Rather than get distracted by those negative feelings, Khosrowshahi reminds his team of their path forward, which focuses on creating value in the long-term. 

Takeaway: As a leader, your job is to help shut out distractions and keep everyone on course. To do that, take time to clearly communicate your goals and remind everyone of the big picture.

It uses strategic empathy.

Remember that the Facebook and Amazon post-IPO trading was incredibly difficult for those companies. And look at how they have delivered since.

Empathy isn’t just a touchy-feely quality. It allows you to connect with your audience. By reminding Uber employees of other companies they likely admire, and how they faced similar challenges, Khosrowshahi helps his people to see the payoff for enduring critical times.

Takeaway: Strategic empathy allows you to reason from the other person’s point of view. Use data and examples that your audience will respect, and you’re more likely to persuade them. 

It’s motivating.

We have all the capital we need to demonstrate a path to improved margins and profits. As the market sees evidence, sentiment will improve, and as sentiment improves, the stock will follow. We will not be able to control timing, but we will be able to control the outcome.

We will be judged long-term on our performance, and I welcome that. It’s all in our hands.

It’s easy to be intimidated when the road ahead appears long and arduous. But by painting a clear picture of that road, Khosrowshahi helps his people focus on what they can control, one step at a time. Best of all, his confidence is contagious.

Takeaway: To motivate others, you have to stir their emotions and build their confidence. Be their coach, their mentor, their supporter. 

If you see something in your people that they don’t even see in themselves, you help to create self-fulfilling prophecies. And you help your people to become the best versions of themselves.

This isn’t the first time Khosrowshahi has had to lead Uber out of a tough time, and it won’t be the last. But if he continues to demonstrate strong leadership, I strongly believe the company will find a way to succeed.

Here’s Dara Khosrowshahi’s full email to Uber employees, as first reported by Bloomberg’s Rita Devlin and Eric Newcomer:

Team Uber:

I’m looking forward to being in front of you at the All Hands tomorrow, but I wanted to send you a quick note in the meantime.

First off, I want to thank you all for your passion for and commitment to Uber. We simply would not be here without you.

Like all periods of transition, there are ups and downs. Obviously our stock did not trade as well as we had hoped post-IPO. Today is another tough day in the market, and I expect the same as it relates to our stock.

But it is essential for us to keep our eye on the long-term value of Uber for our customers, partners, drivers and investors.

Every stock is valued based on the projected future cash flows/profits that the company is expected to generate over its lifetime. There are many versions of our future that are highly profitable and valuable, and there are of course some that are less so. During times of negative market sentiment, the pessimistic voices get louder, and the optimistic voices pull back.

We will make certain that we communicate our incredible value as a company that is changing the way the world moves, but also the value that we are building for our owners. But there is one simple way for us to succeed – focus on the work at hand and execute against our plans effectively.

Remember that the Facebook and Amazon post-IPO trading was incredibly difficult for those companies. And look at how they have delivered since.

Our road will be the same. Sentiment does not change overnight, and I expect some tough public market times over the coming months. But we have all the capital we need to demonstrate a path to improved margins and profits. As the market sees evidence, sentiment will improve, and as sentiment improves, the stock will follow. We will not be able to control timing, but we will be able to control the outcome.

We will be judged long-term on our performance, and I welcome that. It’s all in our hands.

I look forward to being there at the All Hands to answer Qs and tell you more.

Enjoy this post? Check out my book, EQ Applied, which uses fascinating research and compelling stories to illustrate what emotional intelligence looks like in everyday life.

A version of this article originally appeared on Inc.com.

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