LinkedIn’s CEO on How to Win Today: Define the What, Emphasize the How
October 11, 2018
In front of more than 4,000 people at Talent Connect in Anaheim, Calif. Wednesday, LinkedIn’s CEO Jeff Weiner outlined two strategies he believes are crucial to building a successful organization today: defining a clear what, while also emphasizing the how.
By the “what,” he means ensuring your organization sets a succinct vision – i.e. what your organization is going to do to improve the world. But the ends alone can’t justify the means – how you and your team accomplish your goals is equally important, he said.
“Increasingly, it’s not just about the what, but the how,” Jeff said. “Particularly in this day-and-age – people care about how your business gets its ‘what’ done.”
What It Means to Define the What
Organizations today need to have a clear vision statement that rallies their employees and guides their every decision. For LinkedIn, it’s to provide economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce, which has directly led to key business initiatives like developing the Economic Graph and launching LinkedIn Learning.
But LinkedIn is hardly alone. Virtually all of the top 50 companies in the world have a clear vision of exactly what they want to accomplish.
“These are organizations that have very clearly defined what they are about,” Jeff said, which “unites people around a shared purpose.”
How to Emphasize the How
Even if you have the most altruistic, most profound vision statement in the world, how you accomplish that vision is equally important. A practical example – if your most productive software engineer creates a toxic work environment, that’s a net negative.
That’s why at LinkedIn employees have always been evaluated not only by their results, but also how they accomplish those results and if they work with the LinkedIn values in mind, according to Jeff. That ensures you build an organization where all your employees can thrive.
“We are not just looking at the results they are generating, but also how they are generating those results, with equal weighting,” Jeff said. “The extent our employees are walking the walk of our values, not just talking the talk.”
In his talk, Jeff also detailed how data shows purpose is becoming more and more important to today’s workers and how employment is reaching record lows. At the same time, AI and other factors are causing the world to transform faster than ever.
That makes it harder and harder to both attract the right talent today and to have an organization that has long-term success. The best way to overcome all of that is having that clearly defined what, while also paying close attention to the how.