When it comes to identifying talent, Jeff Weiner says he is looking for people who are extremely intelligent, who love learning and can learn fast, who are interested in always making improvements, and how operate within dynamic environments. He also talks about working with employees who may not be meeting their expectations and how to handle those tough situations.
- What I'm looking for depends on the role. So broadly, across any role, which may be the most appropriate given the amount of time, in this day and age, I'm looking for people that are, to your point earlier, extremely intelligent. And not kind of broad-based aptitude or IQ. People who can learn very quickly. People whose learning curves are almost vertical, super steep learning curves, who love learning, who love continuous improvement, who love operating within dynamic environments, who can gain fluency quickly in terms of new things, who enjoy synthesizing vast amount of information, connecting dots, reaching conclusions, and sharing those conclusions and insights with other people.
So that kind of intelligence I think is essential. Looking for people who are both passionate about the work that we do and they do, and hopefully alignment there, who, if they wouldn't describe what we're doing as their dream jobs, it certainly brings them one step closer to their dream. That kind of passion becomes a huge force multiplier, it amplifies the ability for people to create and contribute value.
Looking for people who are compassionate, to the point we were describing earlier. Looking for people who recognize that despite the fact that all of are egocentric by nature, not egomaniacal, egocentric. We see the through our own lens. People who recognize the importance and value of taking the time to see the world through somebody else's perspective, and who have some kind of experience or some kind of recognition of the value and the importance of that. And looking for people that I look forward to working with.
I got to a point in my career where it's just not worth it to work with assholes. I don't care how much value they contribute. And, you know, Reid didn't ask me a question that I've been asked in a number of different settings like this, fireside chats, is what's the most valuable lesson I've learned as the CEO? And arguably the most valuable lesson that I've learned, which unfortunately I've learned on more than one occasion, is for the baseball fans in this section of the audience, is leaving the pitcher in the game for too long.
So for those of you who are less familiar with baseball, the metaphor is that pitcher on the mound, essentially the star pitcher, is pitching a beautiful game through the first five or six innings. And you can see that the fast ball is losing a little bit of velocity, people are getting around on it, maybe even getting on base a little bit, your team's still up, manager comes out and asks the pitcher how the pitcher's doing. And the star pitcher, what do you think the star pitcher's going to say? Doing great, Skip, go sit down. That's not the manager's job, is to just ask how the pitcher's doing, and then take it verbatim and sit down.
Manager's job is to assess whether or not the pitcher is going to be able to win the game, and position the team to win the game. And the most valuable lesson I've learned, is once you recognize that someone may not be the right fit for the role that they're in, as soon as you ask yourself whether or not they're the right fit, you already know the answer. The question is what you're going to do about it. And what I've learned over time is that you have a very open, honest, constructive conversation, that's another value of ours, transparently communicate where your expectations are, the fact that they're not meeting those expectations, and that you're going to do whatever you can to help them get above that bar.
You're going to provide them all the coaching that they need, but you're going to do it over a specific period of time. And you're going to be very open with them as to whether or not you're making progress, you're not making progress. And if they're not, in the most compassionate, constructive way you possibly can, you transition them either to another role in the organization, or to the next play outside the organization. And that is a really key part of scaling an organization. So it's not just about identifying the right talent to bring into the company, it's also about assessing talent that you currently have, and sometimes making those hard decisions.
You know, when I first joined LinkedIn, you can tell a lot about what's on people's minds by virtue of the questions they ask you. And so, I kind of keep tabs on the most frequently asked question I get. And shortly after joining the company, by far and away the most frequently asked question I got was, so what's it like working with Reid? (laughter) And it was code for, what kind of drama are you experiencing by virtue of being a hired CEO, and still having the founder of the company? And what people didn't realize was, I wasn't at LinkedIn in spite of Reid being there, I was at LinkedIn in large part because Reid was there.
So, I wanted the opportunity to work together over time. And the time that we spent together before I joined formally gave us an opportunity to build that relationship. And to take a lot of what would normally be very natural questions and variability and uncertainty, to some extent, we were able to really remove that, and had already developed a relationship based on trust before my first day on the job. So I think that that, you know, was a very positive thing.
- Defining the vision
- Fostering a healthy culture
- Growing a leadership team
- Planning with critical mass and scale in mind
- Coaching others to be able to solve problems
- Evolving communication strategies
- Maintaining focus during change
- Hiring smart at scale
- Empowering talented people