Leadership Advice from LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner

By Kevin on October 8, 2014 in Entrepreneurship, leadership

Jeff Weiner just may be the most effective startup CEO you haven’t heard of.

Not nearly as famous as Amazon’s Jeff Bezos or Starbuck’s Howard Schultz, yet Weiner—the CEO of LinkedIn—has the highest CEO approval rating on Glassdoor. With incredible growth at LinkedIn, Weiner has proven that he isn’t just a great people-leader but he knows how to execute as well. Business Insider recently did an in depth interview with Weiner, and I’ve pulled out the most interesting nuggets with some commentary below.

Q) How do you know when someone needs to be let go?

“I’ve been in business for roughly 20 years, and the entire time I’ve been managing people, not a single person has ever approached me and said, ‘I can’t do my job.’ Not once.

We’re always rooting for people on our team. We also sometimes act, or don’t act, out of fear. We’re fearful over what people will think if we let that person go. We’re fearful of the morale hit. We’re fearful of the unknown. So we all just look away. And it will come back and bite you virtually every time. And so when you have to ask yourself whether or not someone’s doing the job the way you hope they’re going to do the job, you already know the answer.”

Q) On coaching employees.

“Coaching takes a lot of energy. It’s exhausting, because you need to understand what the person’s about, their strengths and weaknesses, their hopes, dreams, and fears. And then you have to deliver messages in such a way that’s tailor-made for them so they can internalize it, and most importantly — this is where true scale begins to happen — they can start coaching people on their team to do it.”

Q) How to get clear on your strategy & “elevator pitch”

Weiner describes a meeting with a future board member who challenged is long description of what LinkedIn was all about. She then asked a different question, “If you could only build one $1 billion business, what would it be?” Weiner thought on it and finally came up with the value proposition to connect “talent and opportunity at a massive scale.”

While a “billion” is too big a number for most of us entrepreneurs, are you clear on your answer to a similar question? If you could only build one $100,000 business, or million dollar business or 10 million business…what would it be?

Q) On communication

Communication is such an important driver of culture and growth, and can be very frustrating to senior leaders who often think, “I already told them that!” Weiner’s view:

“You invest very heavily and thoughtfully in deciding what kind of company you want to be. And then you repeat it, over and over and over again. A friend of mine once paraphrased David Gergen, saying on the subject of repetition, ‘If you want to get your point across, especially to a broader audience, you need to repeat yourself so often, you get sick of hearing yourself say it.’”

Q) On Trust

“You develop trust over time…An old friend of mine once said, trust equals consistency over time.”

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