LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner is currently one of Glassdoor’s top-ranked leaders. Still, his management style took years to develop. As a Yahoo exec in the early 2000s, Weiner has said his approach was “intense.” “I’d listen with the intent to reply, and not seek to understand,” he said in a May commencement address at Wharton business school. “I expected other people to do things the way I did and grew frustrated when they didn’t.”
He vowed to change and developed a compassion-based approach to management inspired in part by the Dalai Lama. Along the way, he developed ways to structure his priorities. These practices, some simple and even mundane, ensured he made space to develop both people and strategic vision, both essential for anyone looking to grow an organization or grow as a leader.
Weiner sat down with CNBC’s Adam Bryant to share his approach and what any leader can learn from his hard-won experience.
1. Routines have power
As Weiner took on more responsibility, he learned to appreciate the power of a daily routine. Knowing what to expect each day made it easier to focus and navigate his day, Weiner says.
From when he wakes up to when he goes to bed, Weiner has a sense of what he’s going to accomplish, both at home and at work.
When he wakes, often at 5:30 in the morning, he exercises, meditates and gets his kids ready for school. In the evening, he gets home in time for dinner, puts his kids to bed and spends time with his wife. Each night he ensures he gets a good night’s sleep, often going to bed as early as 10 p.m.
Daily routines have long had a powerful impact on Weiner. He told CNBC last year about a
“Every night before bed he would say, ‘You can do anything you set your mind to’ and he said it so often it eventually became like a bromide, like ‘finish your vegetables’,” Weiner said in 2017.
2. Schedule buffer time
Weiner’s routine includes slots of time where absolutely nothing is scheduled. He uses these chunks totalling around 90 minutes a day to process information, catch up on emails and make room for spontaneous coaching and conversation.
He says this “buffer time” is essential to productivity and creativity. “The key to time management is carving out time to think, as opposed to constantly reacting,” he told the Wall Street Journal.
“It’s just time to catch my breath,” he says. “It’s made an enormous difference.”
3. Shift to strategy
A key shift for any new leader is learning how to focus less on tactical execution and more on strategic thinking, says Weiner. This shift is a “fundamental transition” for any startup founder or new manager.
Although this idea may seem obvious, Weiner says it’s not always easy to do. “It’s very different when you’re at a company that’s just starting out and everyone needs to chip in, roll up their sleeves and get it done,” he says.
“But over time, if you’re not thinking about the future, if you’re not thinking about how to navigate a constantly-shifting landscape, you’re going to end up back on your heels and reacting to your environment, rather than playing your own game.”
4. Make time for coaching
Leaders in small companies are used to being the go-to problem solver. However, it’s critical to pass down problem solving skills to other leaders on your team.
“It’s absolutely imperative that your key leaders can start doing those things for themselves and, even more importantly, that they’re capable of coaching the people on their teams,” Weiner says.
By coaching leaders in your style, you can expand your leadership reach and free yourself up for more big-picture tasks. “That’s how you truly scale an organization,” says Weiner.