Photo: Shlomo Sprung
LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner talked with journalist Adam Bryant last night at the Director’s Guild Theatre in Midtown.The interview will be posted as the first video in the the New York Times’ Corner Office interview series.
Weiner offered tons of insights on leadership, which we have summarized below (paraphrased except when in quotes):
- Defining leadership: The ability to inspire others and accomplish shared objectives. It starts with vision and the ability to think about where you want to take your vision. It’s about courage and conviction and the ability to communicate that vision.
- On prioritization: It starts with “if you could do only one thing, what would it be?” He learned that from the late Steve Jobs.
- He lives by Ray Chambers’ 5 keys to happiness: Live in the moment, it’s better to be loving than to be right, be a spectator to your own thoughts, be grateful for at least one thing every day and just be happy with what you get. Weiner tries looking forward to going to work in the morning and looking forward to going home every night.
- On management: Manage compassionately. Don’t project what you view on others, try to see things through their lens. “After a meeting or speech, I always ask people what I could have done better.”
- On intensity: It’s “an asset I look for in people, but it has to be channeled in the right way.” However, at the end of the day you have to be yourself and trust your instincts.
- On becoming a CEO: “I didn’t ever wake up and say I wanted to be a CEO.” He wanted to go into education and said that he didn’t want the challenges that go with being the CEO of a publicly traded company where “you let the narrative get away from you.”
- On education: “I didn’t feel like I was educated to my potential.” He wanted more experiential learning and that the U.S. educational system is focused to heavily on maths, verbal and memorization. “I always thought it could be done differently.”
- The LinkedIn mission statement: “To create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce.” He gets a chance to touch 175 million members and change their career trajectory. “We want to create economic opportunities.”
- On coaching and leadership: “Coaching requires way more than problem solving.” The natural inclination is to just fix things, but Weiner carves out two to three hours per day of buffer time to think and coach. “If you’re inauthentic as a leader, people will sniff it from a mile away.”
- LinkedIn’s unofficial mantra: Next play. Every time Duke’s men’s basketball team completes a sequence on offence or defence, Weiner said, head coach Mike Krzyzewski always yells out “next play.” Take a minute to celebrate success or reflect on failure but then move on.
- On failure: “The most valuable lessons I’ve learned is what not to do. Without those experiences, I would not have learned what I learned and bring that to my company. Silicon Valley is littered with failures.”
- On LinkedIn’s culture: “It’s who we are and who we aspire to be.” Weiner was asked what kind of public company he wanted to run and didn’t understand the question at first. “I thought about it and said nothing is going to change. We’re going to measure ourselves against who we were as a private company.”
- Career advice: “It starts with a very simple question: Looking back 20-30 years from now, what do you want to say you’ve accomplished?” Weiner said that many people don’t know the answer to this question and that they’re just going after the titles and the money. He says people should “know what it is you ultimately want to accomplish. The moment you know, you begin to manifest it. If you don’t know it, optimise your passion and skill.” Weiner also said to “surround yourself with amazing people.” It’s not just who you work for, but who you work with, he said.
- On reading a room: A good leader has the ability to “read a room in real time,” constantly taking ques and feedback and adapting.
- On humour: “Try to combine intensity with humour and don’t take yourself too seriously.” He said that “changing the world is hard work, so you better take some time to laugh along the way. Sometimes, Weiner values his workers’ senses of humour more than their talent. “It can help the team come together and helps bond us.”
- On email: Weiner doesn’t send an email between 11 at night and 5 in the morning. “If I send an email at 3:30 in the morning, the person would think he needs to respond right away. It sends the wrong signal. I set the tone for the company.”
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