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Jeff Weiner: Chief Executive Officer of LinkedIn Report

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Updated: Jun 20th, 2022

Introduction

The economic environment of the 21st century requires companies to think beyond profit margins and performance indicators. To attain customer loyalty and build a true sense of community, modern business leaders have to shift their focus toward developing value-based relationships with the external world. They manage to accomplish that through the practices commonly referred to as corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives, which include various aspects. However, ensuring that the enterprise’s operations generate value for all the shareholders and stakeholders requires learners to master effective influence tactics. The purpose of this paper is to examine the CSR-related activities of Jeff Weiner, former Chief Executive Officer of LinkedIn, which is one of the world’s largest social networking sites. Based on the information gathered and scholarly research analyzed, this report offers recommendations regarding the use of leadership influence tactics in social responsibility initiatives to business executives in different fields.

Leader Contributions to CSR

The first CSR aspect that Jeff Weiner engages in is ensuring that LinkedIn remains a pleasant workplace for its many employees. In chapter 6, DuBrin (2018) notes that the company’s dedication to creating a comfortable and stimulating work environment is a crucial part of its overall CSR agenda since such efforts increase employees’ well-being. If an enterprise cannot promise its workers zero-tolerance policies in regards to abuse, bullying, or discrimination of any kind, it should not be expected to succeed in ethical activities targeted externally. In an interview with PayPal CEO Dan Schulman, Weiner reveals that he is committed to managing his venture morally (as cited in Schulman, 2019). Therefore, it is no surprise that LinkedIn is ranked 13th on Glassdoor’s 100 best places to work list (Columbus, 2021). Treating employees fairly and facilitating the best work conditions for them is the first step in operating ethically, which makes it the most crucial aspect of corporate social responsibility.

Another CSR vector important to discuss is the company’s efforts aimed at building a sustainable environment. DuBrin (2018) emphasizes that such initiatives should go beyond binding legal regulations an enterprise has to follow. LinkedIn’s sustainability activities go beyond the minimum requirements set by the U.S. authorities. Jeff Weiner has made sure that the social networking giant would transition to green sources of power and support alternative energy companies, according to the company’s official website (LinkedIn Corporation, 2021). LinkedIn Corporation (2021) proclaims that it is committed to removing its footprint and becoming fully carbon negative through the Carbon Disclosure Project. Zero waste initiatives, shifts towards alternative power sources, and support of green start-ups are all a part of Jeff Weiner’s coordinated efforts to ensure sustainability.

Leader Influence Tactics

In terms of the tactics Jeff Weiner has used to succeed in both of the aforementioned CSR aspects, they include leading by example, respect, and trust, as well as telling stories. In chapter 8, DuBrin (2018) notes that effective influence strategies result in commitment rather than apathetic compliance or aggressive resistance. Assessing the success of the LinkedIn sustainability and workplace equality initiatives, it is apparent that the tactics employed by Weiner remain efficient even after he departs from the CEO position in 2020. Weiner has mentioned multiple times the importance of compassion and respect in the process of attaining organizational goals to “create a virtuous cycle, where otherwise a vicious cycle would exist” (as cited in Schulman, 2019, para. 3). This tactic of leading concerning workers’ well-being, personal fulfillment, and dignity contributes to the company’s larger social responsibility agenda.

Apart from the aforementioned influence tactic, Weiner tells stories to inspire the staff and ensure their commitment to organizational goals. LinkedIn’s former CEO is an excellent storyteller who can keep workers engaged through uplifting speeches. However, he utilizes this tactic on a larger scale and weaves narratives into the company’s vision, mission, primary objectives, and priorities (Bariso, 2018). He considers this one of the most emotionally intelligent strategies, which contribute to the success of the company.

Recommendations to Other Leaders

To call itself truly socially responsible, a company has to maximize the efforts it invests in aimed at increasing the welfare of society. Nevertheless, businesses should remain profitable and enter new markets to sustain themselves and not miss an opportunity for growth. Nygaard et al. (2017) argue that the only way to maintain a balance between gains and CSR is through values-based leadership, primarily focusing on leading by example. Nygaard et al. (2017) recommend learners avoid using coercive power due to its proven inefficiency in improving workers’ ethical behavior. Another piece of advice is to exercise the power of expertise to develop trust while leading by example. Researchers note that the workforce’s “ethical values are positively influenced by the perceived expertise of the headquarters central managers” (Nygaard et al., 2017, p. 137). These recommendations are integral for increasing the effectiveness of the aforementioned tactic used by Weiner and generating favorable ethical values within an enterprise, which will then be translated into its external operations.

One of the defining characteristics that distinguish leaders from general managers is the skill they have in telling fascinating yet efficient stories. In the context of social responsibility, executives often have to make sacrifices, find compromises, and disregard short-term gains to serve a larger goal. Thus, many shareholders and stakeholders may find it difficult to cooperate if they do not see any benefits for themselves.

An executive officer is tasked with persuading large groups of people, and storytelling proves to be an effective tool for that. Research demonstrates that creating and sharing engaging narratives as well as integrating them into the company’s vision positively affects customer and employee engagement (Snyder et al., 2017). Based on the study conducted by Kristen Snyder and her colleagues, other leaders can take away two important recommendations. First, they have to ensure their narratives convey one central message as it makes it easier for the audience to focus. Second, instead of relying on success stories, the theme of failure should be integrated into speeches but only if they contain lessons at the end.

Conclusion: Reflection on Learning

In conclusion, this project has taught me a lot about the relationship between leadership and corporate social responsibility. A successful leader frequently uses influence tactics to make sure their followers are committed to organizational goals. An employee or a customer can instantly make a connection if a storyteller manages to build their narrative off memorable associations. Effective executives maximize the efficiency of their speeches by demonstrating to the listeners that each problem is a learning opportunity while showing their imperfections through stories about failure. Another lesson I have gained is that to secure ethical changes within an organization, employees have to identify with its values, which is best achieved by leaders presenting as role models. As for specific objectives, I have set up a goal for myself to complete a storytelling course online. I believe that the insights learned will help me to generate inspiring and efficient narratives in the future.

References

Bariso, J. (2018). LinkedIn’s CEO just shared an uplifting story about his family –and the lesson it teaches is priceless. Inc. Web.

Columbus, L. (2021). Tech leads Glassdoor’s 100 best places to work this year. Forbes. Web.

DuBrin, A. J. (2018). Leadership: Research findings, practice, and skills (9th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

LinkedIn Corporation. (2021). Environmental sustainability practices. Social Impact LinkedIn. Web.

Nygaard, A., Biong, H., Silkoset, R., & Kidwell, R. E. (2017). Leading by example: Values-based strategy to instill ethical conduct. Journal of Business Ethics, 145(1), 133–139. Web.

Schulman, D. (2019). Managing compassionately: My conversation with LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner. LinkedIn. Web.

Snyder, K., Hedlund, C., Ingelsson, P., & Bäckström, I. (2017). Storytelling: a co-creative process to support value-based leadership. International Journal of Quality and Service Sciences, 9(3/4), 484–497. Web.

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