Jeff Weiner has led LinkedIn, the world’s largest network of professionals, for over 10 years. In this course, he shares his take on what it means to be a great leader.
- So the subject obviously is going to be on leadership, aptly titled. And this is something I'm very passionate about and I've spent a lot of time thinking about. And as I mentioned earlier, I really feel like I've been blessed. I've been privileged to be in the leadership roles that I've been in. And by virtue of sitting in the chair I sit, I get a chance to see things that a lot of people don't get a chance to see. And so today is my opportunity to share some of those perspectives with all of you. Okay, so let's kick it off with this somewhat rhetorical question. What are the most important qualities of an effective leader? I used to define this in singular terms. Very simply put, for me, the definition of leadership was the ability to inspire others to achieve shared objectives. And had you asked me about leadership several years ago, this is the answer you would've gotten. But clearly inspire is the most important part of that definition. And it's also important to distinguish and delineate, in my opinion, between leaders and managers, which a lot of people tend to synonymously. And this is where inspiration to me is the key difference. So managers tell people what to do and leaders inspire them to do it. That's a fundamental difference. Keep that in the back of your mind for context. What's happened over the years, interestingly enough, is that when people have come into my office to ask me about leadership, they've asked for mentorship or coaching, I have found that whereas I would start with this definition of leadership and gone much deeper on the concept of inspiration, what happened very organically was this natural evolution where I started talking about the importance of awareness and how important it is to be not only self-aware, but aware of others and aware of your environment. And I have found that the most effective leaders are the most aware people that I know. They have an uncanny self-awareness, they can read a room, and they have this ability to course correct in real time to not only be conscious and cognizant of the message that they're trying to deliver, whether it's a one on one or a staff meeting or an all hands or they're giving a keynote in front of a large audience, they're not only aware of the message that they're trying to deliver. They're aware of how the message is being received and then they can course correct based on the way the audience is responding. Just now, a number of your heads started going up and down. That's a good thing. It's a lot better than a bunch of you going onto your phone and being like, "This is not interesting to me at all "and I'm going to read a few articles "while this guy's talking." So that kind of awareness, I think, is absolutely foundational to effective leadership. So I kind of started with this definition oriented around inspiration, and then that evolved to include awareness. And then the more I thought about it, I realized it can't be left to just these two dimensions. If you are truly aware of your environment, you're going to be inundated with a lot of information, a lot of data, a lot of knowledge, a lot of stuff coming at you. And the most effective leaders don't leave it at that. They're really good at separating the signal from the noise. They're really good at connecting dots and creating and developing plans and narratives and making good decisions in a timely way. And so that became the third pillar, synthesis. And these are the three dimensions that I believe all effective leaders have, awareness, synthesis, and the ability to inspire, inspiration.
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.