5 Leadership Lessons Learned from Jeff Weiner
One of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had at LinkedIn is the opportunity to see Jeff Weiner’s leadership in action. His disciplined approach to leadership has transformed the concept in my mind from an amorphous set of soft skills to a key competitive differentiator in scaling organizations.
I thought I’d share five of the most important such lessons Jeff has imparted on me.
1. Leadership is inspiring others to accomplish shared objectives
Jeff 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, incentive structures, 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.
2. Culture is the collective personality of your company
Jeff also defines a company’s culture as it’s collective personality. So much of the way decisions get made, the way teams collaborate, and the attitude the company has towards it’s products, the industry, and more is defined by it’s 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. The hardest thing to change in any organization is it’s culture, but it can be done if it starts at the top and is exemplified by each of an organization’s leaders. LinkedIn's culture is best defined in it's recent culture deck (embedded below). But most importantly, the entire leadership constantly bring this to life in all of their interactions throughout the company.
3. The importance of repetition
The typical marketing wisdom is that it takes exposing someone to your marketing message 7 times before they respond to it. Jeff believes the same is true for any key message you want to ensure is broadly understood within the organization. It's thus important to constantly repeat the team's top objectives, the decision's that are being made, the culture you are trying to establish, and anything else you want the broad team to truly internalize. It's equally important to drive consistency in the message, even using the exact same words to really ensure it sticks. It's then important to ensure you have periodic venues to broadly share these key messages. At LinkedIn we continued to have All Hands every 2 weeks, which was a great way for the leadership to broadly share and reinforce priorities, decisions, culture, and more. In addition, all the senior leaders on both the LinkedIn consumer and monetization businesses would meet every single week, which would serve as another venue for Jeff and the leadership to reinforce any key messages that they wanted to be disseminated broadly throughout the organization.
4. Focus on coaching over problem solving
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. Yet 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. Jeff not only spends much of his time coaching his executive team as well as many other key leaders in the organization, but often finds coaching moments in the middle of meetings and reviews that become invaluable lessons for everyone involved.
5. Always demand excellence
One of LinkedIn's values is demanding excellence. This means not simply settling for good results, but constantly aspiring to great results in each and every initiative at LinkedIn. It means setting the bar high with each of our measurable goals and striving to exceed it. Great leaders demand excellence in every interaction they have with their team. It ensures that the team is always motivated to continue to improve and learn and hone their own craft for superior results. While celebrating results is important, looking on to the next play and how you are going to take it to the next level should be the focus that a leader is creating within the organization.
Want to accelerate your product career?
I've finally distilled my 15+ years of product experience into a new course designed to help PMs master their craft. Join us for the Fall '22 cohort of Mastering Product Management.
Are you building a new product?
Learn how to leverage the Deliberate Startup methodology, a modern approach to finding product/market fit. Join us for the Fall '22 cohort of Finding Product/Market Fit.
Enjoyed this essay?
Get my monthly essays on product management & entrepreneurship delivered to your inbox.
Jun 15, 2015