Since becoming CEO in 2009, Jeff Weiner has led LinkedIn to become a network of 364 million registered users with offices in 30 countries and a market cap of $US26 billion.
Earlier this year, Weiner spoke at the Wisdom 2.0 conference in San Francisco, where he explained how he understands his role as a leader.
Firstly, he sees the the role of a manager as someone who tells others to do things, whereas a leader inspires others to do things greater than any demand could produce.
He broke down three functions of an inspirational leader.
They are clear about their company’s vision.
Weiner said LinkedIn employees know the company strives to enhance the productivity and economic opportunity of everyone in the world, pushing them to constantly reach more people.
Fred Kofman, LinkedIn’s VP of leadership and organizational development, was also on the panel and said he has a visual metaphor for how he sees Weiner.
Most CEOs sit at the front of a boat and tell their employees where they need to row; Weiner grabs a surfboard and catches a huge wave, inspiring everyone behind him to do the same. The surfers are all riding the same wave, sharing the same vision, but are putting much more of their heart and personality into their work than the grunts in the rowboat.
They are brave.
Weiner said it’s necessary to have courage because “if you have true vision and you want to try something that hasn’t been done before, there’s gonna be a lot of naysayers, there’s gonna be a lot of sceptics, there’s gonna be a lot of people who feel threatened and try to get in your way.
“You have to feel it deeply to be able to overcome those challenges and for people to want to follow you. And if you’re not authentic in that belief and you don’t have true conviction, they’re not gonna be behind you,” he said.
They are effective communicators.
Weiner told Business Insider CEO Henry Blodget last year that the role of chief executive requires a constant awareness of how you are communicating your vision and conviction to the rest of the company.
“The more people you’re responsible for, the more your words and the way you communicate those words and your body language and essentially everything you do is taken into consideration by the team,” he said.
“You have to be that much more aware of the way in which you’re coming across. And I think the best leaders maintain awareness of their environment and in real time can course correct. It doesn’t matter if they’re in a one-on-one, a staff meeting, an all-hands, or speaking to thousands of people at a keynote. They are always aware of the way they are being received. They can course correct so they can ensure that what they’re saying is resonating and that it’s bringing people together.”
At the Wisdom 2.0 Conference, Weiner said that if as a leader you are able to incorporate these three aspects into your role, then the job just becomes “a matter of what objective you’re trying to achieve and then surrounding yourself with the best talent you can.”
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