Jeff Weiner — Leadership Style & Principles
How can we define the leadership style & guiding principles of Jeff Weiner? How did he lead people across LinkedIn toward their highest potential? What leadership lessons can we bring with us on a daily basis?
Jeff Weiner has been the CEO of LinkedIn Corporation since June 2009 and served in key leadership roles at Yahoo! for more than seven years.
The CEO, who favors jeans and a perma-stubble beard, is savvy. Jeff Weiner has emerged as a full-blown digital-era management guru—and one who offers a unique blend of charismatic leadership and attention to operational details.
Strong leadership is a learned process. Leaders are not born, they are made.
WarningDeveloping your personal skill set and management style doesn’t happen overnight, nor will it ever be perfected without need for further improvement. Taking note of other successful leaders’ habits and processes can help to develop your own best practices and areas of expertise.
We’re in a time where people are increasingly being torn apart. People are looking to reinforce their own views by connecting with others that look like them and sound like them.
Compassion enables you to see the world through the eyes of another person in order to alleviate their suffering or help them. You can’t think of anything more important right now that could help the world start to reconnect and heal.
Jeff Weiner is a CEO I greatly admire for his authenticity, clear communication and the fact that he values mindfulness and compassion in the workplace.
Whether you’re a seasoned business leader or you’ve just recently found yourself in a position of authority, there’s always something to be learned. Here we’ve compiled five leadership guiding principles from Jeff Weiner.
Cockroaches Are The Best Coaches
Humility and the understanding that there’s always something to be learned can place you in the right mindset to open your mind and engage employees. Actionable qualities are what truly inspire others.
Problem-solving is necessary to overcome difficulties, but what business leaders often ignore is the more important aspect of the business: developing people.
Yes, it is perhaps not always as urgent as solving a burning issue in business, but that does not mean it’s not important. There is a large amount of research which shows that people’s engagement and commitment to work can be largely predicted by their perception of how much the leadership team care about them, their well-being and growth opportunities.
Early in your career, success is often obtained by being successful at solving whatever problem is at hand. And this same success in problem solving is often what elevates you into a leadership role.
WarningYet once in leadership, the most important aspect of your role is no longer solving those problems, but instead coaching others to solve such problems. Only through successful coaching can a leader scale to lead a large organization.
The most advanced coaches realize that they can coach others to coach their teams. That’s how you get to scale.
It’s the difference between giving someone a fish, teaching them to fish, and teaching them how to teach others to fish. After all, in order to grow a company to scale, you need to grow the leadership team around you.
People need to know what the company’s values are. You don’t need to comment on everything or all the time but people need to know where you stand. Employees care deeply about where you stand because they are affected.
It was no longer possible for more leaders to stay silent on important topics that employees have a stake in. If you don’t say where you stand on certain issues people will assume the worst.
It used to be a golden rule that you never talk about politics but today it’s a requirement. Jeff Weiner says that nature abhors a vacuum so that if you don’t speak about issues your key stakeholders may assume what your point-of-view is.
When the vision of the company is crystal clear, employees are easily on-boarded on it.
WarningEmployees must understand the business decisions they make are ones that have impact on the business. In the case of LinkedIn, this means understanding how the decisions they are making impact the company mission of connecting the world’s 640 Million professionals and making them more successful.
The Lotion Of Compassion
Compassionate leadership has been described by the Harvard Business Review, as the intent to contribute to the happiness and wellbeing of others. A compassionate leader has a genuine interest in seeing their people not just perform and increase profits, but thrive.
According to Jeff Weiner, you need to be a spectator to your own thoughts, especially when you become emotional.
WarningA compassionate leader is one that is aware of their own strengths and weaknesses (and invites feedback on them) and how they are perceived by others. Compassionate leaders also have compassion for themselves, which is an important element.
Great leaders know how to take different perspectives and see things from other people’s eyes. It is very easy for us to project our own assumptions or styles on others.
For example, micromanaging is often a symptom of a manager projecting his own insecurity onto his subordinates. Only by leading oneself with awareness and compassion, can a leader go on and lead others with greater effectiveness.
Being compassionate towards oneself is not about being self-indulgent or feeling complacent with oneself, but about recognizing one’s strengths as well as weaknesses, accepting ourselves for who we are, acknowledging our thoughts, emotions and beliefs and how they impact our relationship with others.
Compassionate leaders understand that different people do things differently — and that there isn’t just one way to do something well.
They also know that they don’t know everything, which opens doors to creativity and innovative thinking within their teams. Compassionate leaders, don’t adopt a my way or the highway mentality. Instead, they give every member of their team the support that they require to do their work in a way that plays to their strengths.
Compassionate leadership isn’t about being soft or a pushover. It’s about giving your team members advice to help them improve, even if it’s advice that they may not want to hear or is difficult to deliver.
Being a compassionate leader is about giving feedback that opens the recipient’s eyes up to the changes they need to make in order to improve. Ultimately, the most effective leaders know that it’s perfectly possible to be compassionate, while also genuinely holding their team members to account for their performance, whilst making them feel that they are an important part of the team.
Nurture Your Culture
So much of the way decisions get made, the way teams collaborate, and the attitude the company has towards its products, the industry, and more is defined by its culture. Great leaders can not only articulate the company’s specific culture, but go on to shape the culture to enable it to be most successful.
Make sure you codify your values and that leaders are using these values to make decisions.
WarningThe hardest thing to change in any organization is its culture, but it can be done if it starts at the top and is exemplified by each of an organization’s leaders. If the company doesn’t have a codified culture, employees and managers will manifest whatever culture they’ve learned in the past and are coming in with.
One of LinkedIn’s values is demanding excellence. Employees are constantly aspiring to great results in each and every initiative at LinkedIn.
Great leaders demand excellence in every interaction they have with their team. They have to set the bar high with each of their measurable goals and strive to exceed it.
To create a great culture, you have to be clear about what matters. This is where values come in. It’s important to note that culture and values are not the same thing. Values are part of the culture. More specifically, values are the operating principles upon which a company’s leadership make day-to-day decisions.
Authentic leadership means the company leaders make decisions based on the values of the company culture.
It means that the CEO can get asked, “What’s our culture?” and answer the question both in words, and by example. Employees start rolling their eyes when they hear about company culture if they don’t believe the leaders actually mean it.
LinkedIn’s company culture is something that differentiates them as an employer. They focus on 5 main pillars — Transformation, Integrity, Collaboration, Humor, Results.
One of my favorite things about LinkedIn culture is the concept of transformation. They outline that they mean this both professionally and personally — which shows they actually care for their employees’ health and wellbeing in general.
People Eat First
While managers tell people what to do, leaders inspire them to make good decisions. This comes back to authentic leadership — it’s important for leaders to embody the values they espouse because most people are very good BS detectors.
Great leaders find alignment between what employees want to accomplish and what they want employees to accomplish, and explain why it’s such a strong fit.
Jeff Weiner encourages managers to let employees have autonomy and purpose, and develop mastery along the way. Let employees leverage their intelligence, passion, compassion, resourcefulness and show them how their strengths can create value on a global basis; now that’s inspiring.
Top leaders like Jeff Weiner inspire people to act like an owner.
That means that employees are empowered to voice their suggestions and that there is a way for the company to respond to feedback. When everyone at the company sees the company as a “we” and not a “they,” people can express frustration and share solutions, and then they’ll work to make those solutions happen.
Depending on the nature of your business, empowering employees can be as simple as encouraging them to share thoughts and opinions in meetings or allowing for experimental work studies to test out new ideas. Implementing flexible work arrangements for employees who do their best work from home is also a recommended practice.
Executing on a bold vision is tough work. So humor needs to be a part of every executive’s day.
WarningMake time to laugh with your team members. Jeff Weiner says he values his team members’ sense of humor and sometimes, on a tough day, that can trump their talent and expertise!
In a recent article in Inc. magazine, Jeff Weiner said that communication skills are the number one skill gap in the workplace.
Strong leaders understand that their strength comes from those around them. Possessing strong listening skills and knowing when to let the other person have the floor is crucial. The first step is to acknowledge that communication mastery is essential to your success. Next, decide that practicing active listening is more effective than merely talking.
We Buy On purpose
Jeff Weiner specifically defines leadership as inspiring others to accomplish shared objectives. The definition is important because it calls out that the difference between management and leadership is leveraging inspiration as your key tactic.
While organizational design, and many other management practices are important, the most powerful way to align the team and drive maximum results is to truly inspire them with the vision of the organization.
This requires crisply defining the vision and evangelizing it throughout the organization. Highly motivated information workers and creative professionals are critical to developing a robust organization able to take on any challenge.
It is no coincidence that purposeful capitalism has become a popular phrase these days.
WarningThe next generation is not only looking for work that provides salary and stability but more importantly they are looking for meaning and purpose in their work. They long to do work that matters to them and contributes to something larger than themselves.
It’s noteworthy that LinkedIn hosts monthly InDays, where teams come together for activities that often include volunteering together. So managers make a practice of bringing in a sense of social purpose to the company on a regular basis, which I’m sure impacts LinkedIn’s culture in a positive way.
As a leader, do you know the “why” — both for yourself and for your organisation? Are you clear on what connects your people together?
How will you create the right environment, condition and strategy to realize your vision and purpose? A conscious organization starts with what matters most to us: a commitment to achieving a vision that exceeds any individual capacity, a vision that connects people in common efforts with genuine meanings.
While it’s important to celebrate the successes, and reflect on a failure, you ultimately have to move on and focus on the “Next Play.”
WarningIt’s crucial to communicate the importance of next play to your team: The faster a company grows, the more opportunity there is to experience both successes and failures.
Jeff Weiner recognizes that despite the fact that humans by default are egocentric — we see the world through our own lens — he sees the value of people who recognize others’ perspectives. That sensibility makes for a great culture, and a great company.
Viewed as one of the most beloved CEOs in the world, LinkedIn Jeff Weiner has a 97 percent employee approval rating.
Back in 2017, Jeff Weiner tweeted the 4 qualities he claims can change the game of effective leadership. The tweet read: Inspire, empower, listen & appreciate”. Practicing any one of these can improve employee engagement; mastering all four can change the game.
In today’s world, we don’t lack leaders who can inspire an organization to achieve performance goals and to create shareholder values.
WarningWe lack, however, leaders who aspire to develop an organization as a conscious human community where each individual can bring the whole person to work, treat each other with respect and compassion, and realize their true potentials.
The compassionate organization will not only create long-term value but also become a change agent to the advancement of the society and humanity.
Jeff Weiner’s open and compassionate leadership style keeps the company focused on growing very quickly while reducing the business mantra to just two words: Next Play.
I’d love to hear what you think — Where do you see the role of compassion in your career, business and life? What have you taken away from Jeff Weiner leadership style & principles? Please feel free share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.