Jeff Weiner Leadership Style: Jeff Weiner has had a diverse career, although most of his roles have involved management and leadership.
As a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, he has the knowledge needed to build and improve business plans. Of course, classroom knowledge doesn’t always make someone successful in the real world. Business success often comes from execution, forming relationships, and learning how to keep people motivated to reach common goals.
Weiner’s jobs have included:
- Vice President at Warner Bros Online, where he played a critical role developing the companies first business plan.
- Executive-in-Residence at Greylock Partners and Accel Partners, two extremely influential venture capital firms.
- Chief Executive Officer of LinkedIn, where he helped broker an acquisition deal with Microsoft that netted the social media company $26 billion.
Jeff Weiner stepped down as CEO of LinkedIn in 2020 and transitioned to the executive chairman role.
With such a successful career as an executive and deal-maker, it’s only natural for people to wonder about Jeff Weiner’s leadership style.
What Type of Leader Is Jeff Weiner?
Jeff Weiner’s leadership style doesn’t fit perfectly into a single category. Over the years, he has honed a custom approach. According to him, it takes time, effort, and practice to build an effective, genuine leadership style.
Jeff Weiner often uses the word “inspiration” when he talks about his role as a leader. If the person in charge doesn’t feel inspired, then no one else on the team will feel that way. Weiner’s inspiration is infectious. For example, when he talks about the future of LinkedIn, you start to feel excited about the possibilities. You don’t even have to work with him or one of his companies. His inner source of inspiration makes the topic interesting.
Characteristics of Jeff Weiner Leadership Style
While it’s difficult to put Jeff Weiner’s leadership style into a single category, it is easy to identify some of the characteristics that make his approach successful. Luckily, he has talked about his leadership characteristics extensively (find some quotes near the end of this article for examples).
Some of the qualities Weiner has mentioned include:
Weiner uses “awareness” in a very broad sense that encompasses numerous related qualities. Good leaders need to be aware of their surroundings, including the state of the industry, what assets the company has, where the company needs to improve, and emerging technology that could create new business opportunities.
Leaders also need to be aware that they are leaders. This may sound obvious, but it’s actually quite brilliant. How many executives think about accomplishing tasks (e.g., finalize a merger, prepare a presentation for an upcoming board meeting, etc.) without considering how their actions influence the people around them. They have leadership positions, but they don’t always think of themselves as leaders. Instead, they get so focused on what they need to get done that they forget to always present a positive, uplifting persona to everyone in the organization.
Recognizing oneself as a leader plays a part in the final way that Jeff Weiner defines “awareness.” Leaders need self-awareness so they can see how they influence people.
Does walking through a work area in the morning without saying “hello” to employees create division? A self-aware leader will recognize that and alter the behavior to make everyone feel like part of the team. Does sulking after a failed deal put the whole office in a bad mood? A self-aware leader should notice that, make the appropriate adjustments, and project an optimistic attitude.
Obviously, Jeff Weiner has bad days like everyone else does. That doesn’t mean he lets his inner feelings affect the people around him. With enough practice, self-awareness makes it possible for leaders to push aside challenging emotions for private times. In public, they need to play the role of someone in control.
Journalists following Jeff Weiner’s career have noticed that he often uses the word “synthesis” to encapsulate the latest buzzwords and jargon. They aren’t wrong, but his underlying point makes more sense than they let on.
For Weiner, leaders need to understand the synthesis of technologies and opportunities around them. They cannot live in bubbles, protected from the outside world’s influence. Instead, they need to ride the cutting edge of emerging trends.
Weiner wants to see the entirety of what’s around him because that complete vision gives him the ability to make informed choices that will lead his company and people forward.
Without synthesis, leaders can only make gut decisions. Some successful leaders have relied on that approach. In today’s world of business intelligence and analytics, though, the “gut instinct” idea makes less sense by the day.
Effective leaders possess 3 qualities: Awareness (global/industry trends, company performance, team/others, self); Synthesis, (separate signal from noise, connect dots, generate insights, develop plan); Inspiration (clarity of vision, courage of conviction, communicating both)
— Jeff Weiner (@jeffweiner) November 17, 2018
The above section discussed inspiration, so let’s keep this part short. Weiner has said that inspiration needs to come from within. Don’t expect it to strike on its own, though. Leaders must constantly look for sources of inspiration that rejuvenate them and help them energize their organizations.
Is Jeff Weiner A Laissez-Faire Leader?
Jeff Weiner doesn’t really fit the laissez-faire category. According to the laissez-faire leadership approach, executives do their work and trust everyone else to do the same. They have hands-off managerial styles.
You could try to say that Weiner has some laissez-faire qualities since he does seem to trust his colleagues to make smart decisions. He is too involved in the decision-making process, though, to put him in this category.
Is Jeff Weiner A Transformational Leader?
It’s fair to say that Jeff Weiner has some qualities of a transformational leader. Transformational leadership goes hand-in-hand with his focus on inspiration.
Weiner looks like a transformational leader in that he develops a vision, communicates that vision, and encourages people to reach their goals. He provides opportunities for employees and managers to excel. He also gives them opportunities to fall short of their intended goals. Falling short isn’t always a failure. It’s an opportunity to learn more about what does and doesn’t work for a person’s professional life.
There are a lot of benefits to transformational leadership. It tends to lower employee churn and make people feel satisfied with their jobs. It also places exceptional value on relationships. Weiner is willing to work closely with others to reach common goals. He will also offer his advice—without insisting that people follow what he says. The relationship, however, encourages people to work harder so they don’t disappoint the boss, who also seems like a friend and colleague.
Is Jeff Weiner A Servant Leader?
You could make an argument that Jeff Weiner has some aspects of a servant leader.
He’s willing to use his resources to better the company and help others improve. For example, he donated $14 million in stock bonuses one year to help LinkedIn employees after a drop in share price.
That shows a significant commitment to the well-being of everyone involved. It’s difficult to imagine that someone willing to donate $14 million in bonuses wouldn’t set aside some time to help others develop their skills.
Is Jeff Weiner A Visionary Leader?
If you had to pigeonhole Jeff Weiner into one category, it would be a visionary leader.
He leads with his vision and inspiration. He doesn’t let minor setbacks prevent him from pursuing other opportunities.
Instead, he creates a vision for the company, gets people excited about that vision, and relies on them to work toward a common goal.
Jeff Weiner Leadership Quotes
You can potentially learn a lot about how Jeff Weiner views his leadership style by reading some things he has said about his style. The following quotes should offer some insight:
“In order to inspire people, that’s going to have to come from somewhere deep inside of you.”
“The important word there is inspire. The key difference between managers and leaders is that managers tell people what to do, while leaders inspire them to do it. Inspiration comes from three things: clarity of one’s vision, courage of their conviction and the ability to effectively communicate both of those things.”
“You have to maintain a culture of transformation and stay true to your values.”
“The more people you’re responsible for, the more your words and the way you communicate those words and your body language and essentially everything you do is taken into consideration by the team.”
“You have to feel it deeply to be able to overcome those challenges and for people to want to follow you. And if you’re not authentic in that belief and you don’t have true conviction, they’re not gonna be behind you.”
“I’ve come to learn there is a virtuous cycle to transparency and a very vicious cycle of obfuscation.”
“You have to be that much more aware of the way in which you’re coming across. And I think the best leaders maintain awareness of their environment and in real-time can course correct. It doesn’t matter if they’re in a one-on-one, a staff meeting, an all-hands, or speaking to thousands of people at a keynote. They are always aware of the way they are being received. They can course-correct so they can ensure that what they’re saying is resonating and that it’s bringing people together.”
Jeff Weiner Leadership Style Conclusion
It’s unfair to force Jeff Weiner’s leadership style into one category. He’s smart enough to see the advantage of picking and choosing aspects from multiple leadership styles.
His unique approach has made LinkedIn the primary social media platform for professionals who want to display their accomplishments, share their work histories, and establish themselves as thought leaders. It’s difficult to believe the company would have become so successful without Weiner’s leadership.
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