10 Leadership Lessons for building a Quest from Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn

Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn is on a quest to  create economic opportunity for the 3.3 billion people in the global workplace by matching skills with job opportunities. This is a bold and audacious quest and quests are a key element of successful leadership in the new world of work. Most businesses have visions and mission statements about shareholder returns and being the best at customer service. There is nothing wrong with these annual report fillers but in order to capture the inspiration and dreams of people around which success or failure will be defined, something more is required.

Quests are adventures, they offer the raison d’être, the higher calling. Seth Godin once put it something like this. If your business closed it’s doors today what hole would it create in society (other than for those people who worked for you). Would the hole be immediately be filled up by a competitor or would people who connected with you say that the world is a poorer place now that your business is no longer around. If LinkedIn disappeared, people would certainly feel a hole in their life. This is a sure sign that the quest that LinkedIn is on is a good one, a realistic one and an achievable one.

What is your company’s quest? What is your personal and team’s quest?   I came across this interview with Jeff Weiner in Forbes, and although not directly stated so,  many of the ten lessons of leadership discussed  touch on the theme of a quest. Enjoy the read here below or follow the link to Forbes


I had the pleasure of attending the first video pilot interview of  LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner  by  Adam Bryant,  New York Times  Senior Editor for Features.

As a user of  LinkedIn  and loyal reader of Adam’s  Corner Office  columns I had high expectations for the live interview. I walked away feeling like a high school girl who experienced her first crush. And now I am writing a tell all!

Jeff’s open and compassionate leadership style keeps the company focused on growing at the rate of two new members every second (that translates into 175 million registered users in more than 200 countries) while reducing the business mantra to just two words: “Next Play.” Weiner borrowed the phrase from  Duke University  basketball coach  Mike Krzyzewski, who shouts Next Play, every time the ball changes hands. Krzyzewski uses the phrase to make sure the  Duke University Blue Devils  don’t spend too much time celebrating a success or feeling down about a miss. Instead, they are coached to focus on one thing: the next challenge. During the interview with Bryant, Weiner described how powerful Next Play has been for the company. On the day  LinkedIn  became a public company, employees received a black T shirt with the company’s name and stock ticker written across the front and Next Play emblazoned on the back of the shirt. Even today 16 months after the  LinkedIn IPO, employees continue to talk about their Next Play and stay focused on delivering results.

During the video interview,  Weiner  shared 10 lessons in leadership I think every businessperson should be aware of. They include:

1)        Define leadership in your company:  At  LinkedIn,  Leadership  is  the ability to inspire others and achieve shared results. It starts with defining a clear vision. In the case of LinkedIn it is to create economic opportunity for the 3.3 billion people in the global workplace by matching skills with job opportunities.

2)        Understand how to evolve from a start-up to a public company:A CEO and the leadership team must understand the importance of growing their skills from solving problems to coaching others to achieve business results.

3)      Prioritize your business goals:  Start with asking yourself and your team if we could only do one thing, what would it be? This is a lesson  Weinerlearned from  Steve Jobs  and practices every day.  Weiner’s advice is to focus on doing fewer things, and do those things well.

4)      Practice time management:  Weiner  carves out 2-3 hours each day to reflect, think and see the big picture. Weiner’s advice if you do not carve out at least an hour you are fitting way too much into your schedule.

5)      Encourage all employees to think like an owner:  Employees in a start-up must understand the business decisions they make are ones that have P&L implications. 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.

6)      Keep putting your customers first:    AtLinkedIn, one of the values is simply stated as: Members First. So anytime the  LinkedIn  product team considers new enhancements the first question revolves around: Is this putting our members first, or is this putting the company first? “If it benefits members, it will ultimately benefit the company.

7)      Remember To laugh:  Executing on a bold vision like creating economic opportunity for 3.3 billion people around the world is tough work. So humor needs to be a part of every executive’s day.   Make time to laugh with your team members.  Weiner  says he values his team members’ sense of humor and sometimes, on a tough day, that can trump their talent and expertise!

8)   Find time to reflect on what’s important to you:  Working professionals should take time to ask themselves: “If you had to look back at your career 20-30 years from now, what do you want to say you have accomplished?”  Weiner  says he is amazed how many people he interviews cannot answer this question and worse yet have never thought about it. Instead, far too many focus on the next job role, next title, or next compensation package, without knowing what it is you want to leave the world. And  Weiner  believes once you take time to articulate this to yourself, you begin to manifest this to others and before too long, you start on a path to realize your vision.

9)  Understand what makes you happy:  Weiner  lives by five keys to happiness: (articulated by  Ray Chambers, an entrepreneur who helped create the leveraged buyout industry, as well as a number of non profits such asNational Mentoring Partnership  and  Americas Promise) These include:

  • Stay in the moment.
  • Step back and become a spectator to your own thoughts.
  • It’s more important to be loving than to be right.
  • Go out of your way to serve others.
  • Take time each morning, to write down what you are grateful for and read it throughout the day.

10)  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. 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.”

So did  Weiner  share  LinkedIn’s  Next Play? No, for that, we will all have to log onto the site and see for ourselves.

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