How the world's most connected man moves boulders with compassion

Some leaders equate toughness with success. LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner knows better. At a recent spotlight lunch, Jeff shared why LinkedIn’s culture is its biggest competitive advantage.

Compassionate leadership
Jeff's embrace of the concept was sparked by the 14th Dalai Lama's writings on happiness and the parable of a monk who encountered a man trapped under a boulder.

For the monk to sympathize with the plight of the trapped man: this is empathy. Compassion is moving the boulder: taking action to free others from what burdens them.

Values on repeat
Only through constant repetition, he said, do values actually begin to show up in company culture.

Saying something once or twice rarely does the job: you've got to repeat it so often you get tired of saying it.

All hands
Over the past 9 years of leading LinkedIn's growth from 330 to over 11,000 employees, Jeff has convened bi-weekly all-hands meetings for the purpose of acknowledging successes and challenges. This has helped to cement a culture of transparency and trust.

Keeping a cadence of regular meetings is relatively easy when a company is small. As a company scales, it is more challenging but all the more important.

Jeff urged us to go beyond hiring for diversity to ensure that employees from diverse backgrounds are included in high-level meetings and that, once there, they find others like them.

As CEO, one of Jeff's biggest goals has been to ensure that LinkedIn is a place where talented people from any background feel they really belong.

The future of work
By 2020, Millennials will comprise 75% of the global workforce. This is a generation that freely expresses how they want to work differently than those before them. They are the pioneers who are leading us toward a future where independent and flexible work arrangements will become increasingly prevalent.

While acknowledging that AI-driven automation is here and bound to accelerate, Jeff expressed optimism in AI-enabled technology's ability to help solve for large regional skills gaps: “We must retrain people for the jobs that are and will be, not that once were.”

Own your culture
Jeff said he most admires companies that do the hard work of codifying, reinforcing, and living into their unique values and culture, and that "[LinkedIn's] culture is our most significant competitive advantage."

While compassion has worked well for LinkedIn, Jeff said the most important thing is for companies to define and live by whatever unique set of values works best for them.