LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner Explains The Difference Between Managers And Leaders


This is part of the “Moving Forward” series offering advice to small business owners on technology, mentorship, productivity, and growth. “Moving Forward” is sponsored by Ink from Chase®. More posts in the series »

As the CEO of the world’s largest career-focused social network, LinkedIn’s Jeff Weiner has some pretty unique insights on how to best manage a growing company.

In a recent talk at the San Francisco campus of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, which was written up by the school’s [email protected] site, Weiner shared his best tips for businesses. Here are a few of the key lessons.

Understand the difference between leadership and management.

“I draw a very clear distinction between leadership and management,” Weiner said. “For me, leadership is the ability to inspire others to achieve shared objectives. Managers tell people what to do. Leaders inspire them to it.”

Being a leader takes a great deal more effort and energy than just giving orders. You can’t just tell an employee something and move on. You have to understand where they’re coming from and their individual strengths, weaknesses, fears, and motivations.

“As human beings, most of us tend to project our own worldview onto other people,” Weiner said. “This is especially common in less experienced executives, and I was once one of them.”

Don’t focus so much on innovating that you make strategic mistakes.

“Hyper-growth companies often get so caught up with innovation and the adrenaline rush that they chase the next bright shiny thing at the expense of getting their launch trajectory right,” Weiner said.

He uses the analogy of a “rocket in space.” A small mistake can leave you very far off track in the long run. The key is to concentrate extremely hard on getting the right processes and infrastructure in place early on. Otherwise, you spend far too much time fixing things later.

Always focus on the “next play.”

Every time Duke University’s highly successful college basketball team completes a play, its legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski yells out “next play,” regardless of how well things went. They don’t over-celebrate successes. And they don’t dwell on failures, either.

That strategy inspired LinkedIn’s approach to its highly successful IPO.

“After we filed, I walked around and thanked every employee that I could get to,” Weiner said. “What struck me was that everyone I went up to talked about our next play. It was ‘next play this,’ and ‘next play that.'”

Employees wore shirts with the company’s “LNKD” ticker symbol on one side, and “Next Play” on the other.

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