LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner: 3 Leadership Rules
The social network for business professionals grew its 2013 third-quarter revenue a whopping 56 percent over the same period last year, to $393 million. Financial success makes any CEO look good, but Weiner says explosive growth can distract a leader from his or her vision for the company's future.
"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," he told Knowledge@Wharton, the University of Pennsylvania business school's blog.
During a recent Wharton School fireside chat, Weiner spoke about the skills that help him keep on his planned trajectory. Below are the three rules he follows for leading, hiring, and inspiring his employees.
Don't tell your troops what to do.
As elementary as it may sound, knowing the difference between being a leader and a manager is crucial to effective leadership, Weiner says. "When I was younger, I didn't understand the difference," he says. "For me, leadership is the ability to inspire others to achieve shared objectives." So when you're in a jam and you need your employees to hit a certain goal, remember the distinction. "Managers tell people what to do. Leaders inspire them to do it," he says.
Hire with vision.
Every hyper-growth company will constantly be hiring. But the secret is to know how to hire employees who will help bring you seamlessly into the future. Weiner says that LinkedIn has been around for 10 years in large part because of it hiring tactics. He looks for candidates with what he calls "technology vision." "It's invaluable to have someone on the team who understands technology and the way it's going to be changing society," he says. "Then the job is to get in front of those trends and unlock a tremendous amount of value."
But hiring is only part of it. The other part is making sure you, as a leader, demonstrate the values you require your staff to possess. "We set about establishing very clearly what our values were. And far more important than that, we live them," he says.
Focus on the next play.
A great leader makes sure his or her team is always focused on its next goal, not its past accomplishments or failures. Taking a philosophy from Duke men's basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, Weiner says his company's mantra is "Next Play." "Every time the Duke Blue Devils complete a sequence, on either the offense or defensive side of the court, no matter how well or poorly they performed, the coach yells out the same thing: 'Next Play,'" Weiner says. During LinkedIn's final days as a private company, Weiner witnessed just how well the philosophy worked. As he spoke with his employees, they talked about "'next play this,'" and "'next play that,'" instead of the IPO as the end of the game, he says.
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