Join Jeff Weiner for an in-depth discussion in this video Vision to values: Priorities, part of On Leadership by Jeff Weiner.
- I mentioned earlier when we talked about strategy, sometimes it's a Rorschach test and people will actually use priorities as strategy. They will also sometimes use strategy as priorities. There's a fundamental difference between these two things, okay? Strategy, like we said, is how you navigate the competitive landscape. Priorities are the tactics designed to realize that strategy. And there's a fundamental difference between those two things, and you do not want to use these interchangeably. Because if you think your tactics are strategic, a competitor who happens to be strategic is going to run circles around you. They're not just thinking about right now. They're not just thinking about launching that next product. They're thinking a few steps down the road. So what do great pool players do? When they're taking a shot, what does a great pool player do? (man speaks off mic) Thinking about their next shot. What do extraordinary pool players do? Two steps, three steps, four steps. Any chess players in the room? We're going to get more hands. How many chess players? Guys. (audience laughs) Same thing, right? Difference between a world-class chess player and a basic chess player, a novice, is the number of steps in advance, the evaluation of every move on the board is what separates them. So that's the difference between strategy and tactics. There's a time and a place for both. If you're only thinking strategically, you're only flying at 100,000 feet, you're only focused on the competition, what happens to your day-to-day business? Nothing happens your day-to-day business. It just stays static, right? And if you're only executing and you're only grinding it out and you're only focused on that next thing that you got to knock off of your list, what's going to happen? You end up following. You end up reacting. You're not playing multiple steps ahead. So that's the fundamental difference. This has been an area where we've had a lot of stability for a long period of time at a high level. So until this year, we had the same four operating priorities for probably seven years in a row. Prior to that, we had a fifth, which was international. International became so deeply embedded in everything that we did that we removed it as a standalone priority. But talent, number one operating priority at LinkedIn. It's all about our people. We're nothing without our team, world-class team. Technology, the infrastructure and hierarchy of needs, keeping the site up, keeping our applications up, making sure our membership is secure, performant, scalable, extensible, absolutely foundational. This year, as you know by now, we added trust, something we had always talked about, but felt it was so important given the backdrop against which we operate that we needed to codify it. Member experience and the customer experience. In a perfect world, how many priorities would you have? - [Man] One? - One. No, no, all kidding aside. In a perfect world, you'd have one priority. That's it. Why would you only have one priority? Focus, simplicity, ease, greater viability. I mean, you name it. In a perfect world, you are focused on one thing. As organizations continue to enjoy success and they continue to grow, they grow and grow. They grow in scope. They grow in scale. They grow in terms of complexity, and inevitably they will grow in terms of priorities. If you guys have never done this exercise, I can't recommend it enough when thinking about a stack rank list of priorities. It was something that I heard for the first time from Steve Jobs in person. He actually visited Yahoo shortly after Jerry Yang was installed as the CEO. Jerry had founded the company and many years later became the CEO. Steve called him and said, "How can I help?" He said, "Could you come talk to our VPs? "We've got some challenges ahead. "It would be great to hear from you "on how you turned Apple around." So amongst a whole host of other extraordinary insights that he shared, the thing I perhaps remember the most from that day was the fact that when he came back to Apple for the first time, Apple was months away from becoming bankrupt, insolvent. And he asked his leadership team, "If you could only do one thing, what would it be?" Some of you may have read the wonderful book, the Walter Isaacson biography. But you know what that one thing turned out to be back when Steve returned? Anyone want to take a guess? iPod, close. There was one before then. Saved the company. iMac. It was the iMac. They went back to their roots. Company started with the Mac, and he said, "Let's go back to that. "Let's reinvent. "Let's reimagine the iMac." And they focused on that one thing, and they got it right. Once you reach critical mass on that one thing, then you can start to think about other things. What was the next thing they focused on? Calling on you. iPod. What was the thing after the iPod? I, no. You need iTunes if you got an iPod. And then here's the trick question. What was the next thing they focused on? - iPad? - What'd you say? - [Man] iPad. - Which was launched first, the iPad or the iPhone? - [Man] iPad. - No, iPhone. That's why it's a trick question. You were right, though. Your answer was correct. Started focusing on the iPad next. Started to focus on a tablet, which he believed was going to redefine consumer technology. He had always wanted to do the iPhone. Thought it wasn't going to be possible because they felt at Apple like they need to control the whole stack, and there was no telco company that was going to turn over their stack to Steve Jobs and Apple, until one day AT&T said, "You know what, Steve? "You do it. "You do you. "You create whatever you want to create. "We just want to be along for the ride. "We're going to partner with you." He said, "Fantastic, this is great." Then they hit the pause button on the iPad. He hit the pause button. This is Apple. This was not a company that was about to go bankrupt at that point. This is a gigantic company. But he so valued the power of focus, he said, "We're going to hit the pause button over here. "We're going all in on the iPhone." They did the iPhone, it reached critical mass, and then they did the iPad. Now, doing one thing at a time, does that mean you stop doing everything else that is happening at the company? No. For him, it meant focus and priority, and that place that he would prioritize first and foremost, that was the thing that was going to be at the top of his list, and he was going to focus on as few things as possible and making sure he'd get them right. So priorities matter deeply. Really important.
Learn about the importance of maintaining awareness of yourself, your team, your industry, and the world at large. Explore the topic of synthesis, which you achieve through developing your vision and values and by focusing on the most important priorities. Plus, learn about the role of inspiration in leadership, both in terms of being true to your own values and motivating others.