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July - 2013 - issue > In My Opinion
Gear up to Inspire and Make Anything Possible
Jeff Weiner
CEO -LinkedIn
Monday, July 1, 2013
Founded in the living room of a co-founder in 2002, LinkedIn (NYSE: LNKD), an online professional network, was officially launched in May 2003. Headquartered in Mountain View, California, the company has a market cap of $19.80 billion.

There has always been a tug of war between ‘Leadership’ and ‘Management’ for the top notch. Even though they overlap each other, they are not synonyms. There is a huge difference between two. With management, you find people who tell you what to do but leadership inspires others and inspiration to me is the key. But now the question arises, “What does it take to inspire others?” According to me, there are three components to true inspiration.

1. Clarity of Vision:

What help are you trying to take, what vision do you have, what sense of purpose strides in your motivation, and what do you see in other people that others are not seeing? The clearer you can be about these, the more easily you can understand a lot of people.

2. The Courage for Intervention:

If you are a visionary, you are going to see something that other people do not see or feel threatened by because it can potentially disrupt the way they focus. You have to believe in what you are doing, you have to believe in your vision which truly every founder follows and that conviction provides courage to other people to pursue the same vision.

3. Ability to communicate the
required Information:

To be able to evangelize to people in a way they can easily understand what you are trying to accomplish.

It is not so much about effective leadership as it is about the kind of talent I work for. My past experience has helped me to learn about the kind of people I would want to work with in my team. Talking about the internet industry, there are five key players on the field. Today, technology is driving the industry, advances innovation, and supplies breakthroughs thus making it important to have someone in the team who understands technology and the direction that the world is moving in. The next thing you need is the ability to harness where technology is going; you need product sensibility. When groups of people come together business acumen and thought sensibility are the absolute tools necessary to get things done to take that technology and actually motivate and inspire teams of people.

The next quality of leadership is to inspire people, but resourcefulness is the most important of them all which is needed to get things done. You are going to run into walls where you will need people in your team who can go over those walls, go around those walls or just knock them down and go straight through. This is resourcefulness. It is very rare to find such people. If you find people with multiple skills, then those are even better. However, if you find people with all five; those are the people that make the pantheon of business - the ‘Steve Jobs’, the ‘Bill Gates’, the ‘Jeff Bezos’ and others.

Are Leaders Born?

We are all born with the resources - words, deeds and ideals that can inspire people. Words are powerful, but there is nothing like talking the talk and walking the talk. There are some born with the ability to communicate more effectively to channel things that they are passionate about, and there are others who just know how to get things done as opposed to other people who lead by example. We all watch and get inspired by looking at the way in which they do the things. The later can be coached to cultivate that skill set, even if it is not instinctive or something that was inherent. To begin with, they can practice it and improve it over time. The same stand for leading by your actions in terms of getting things done, understanding the culture of the organization and living up to that culture, and aspiring to excel to do better.

Organizational Culture

Imagine you are in a rocket and going to launch it. If you are off by inches at the launch, then you can be out by miles; when you are out there because of the sheer speed at which you are moving at. It is very important to go from situations to build from foundation. What will ultimately trigger growth are innovations and breakthroughs along with the workforce flowing into the company. One can easily predict the success or failure of the company looking at its team, process, and physical infrastructure. Without these elements, it is quite challenging to be a scalable and sustainable one within the industry.

According to me, culture is collective personality in the conversation, and not just who you are but who you inspire to be. What is critical for us in LinkedIn are the operating principals we use to make decisions and as sub-set of our cultures. I would say LinkedIn culture has four dimensions – transformation, collaboration, team work and results, and the most important for us is transformation of individual employees of LinkedIn to renovate the trajectory of their career.

Passion, Skill and Market

Few questions that I ask while recruiting students, interns, folks looking for career advice are what should I be thinking about, what is the most important dimension that I should be contemplating on a career path and what I am passionate about? It is quite amazing to see how in-frequently people ask these questions to themselves. It is understood that students who are just out of school and have not experienced much do not know what they want to do. But for people who have been in the industry for a long time, they fall prey to a whole stream of opportunities and when they wake up after 5-10 years, they do not find the same passion igniting within themselves.

I would advise the truly passionate entrepreneurs to not just optimize for passion, but to optimize both passion and skill along with market. If you find the convergence and nexus of these three elements, you have got the right timing and can make anything possible.
(The article is based on the keynote speech delivered at TiEcon, 2013 hosted at Santa Clara)

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