The Succession Lesson from LinkedIn As Jeff Weiner Takes a New Role

The Succession Lesson from LinkedIn As Jeff Weiner Takes a New Role

Two days ago, the CEO of LinkedIn, Jeff Weiner announced that he will be stepping down to take the role of Executive chairman of LinkedIn, and Ryan Roslansky will take his place as CEO.

“Last summer, I began talking with Satya about transitioning from my current dream job to my next one and helping him decide on my successor as CEO. Today, I am excited to announce that effective June 1, 2020, I will be stepping into the role of Executive Chairman of LinkedIn and Ryan Roslansky, currently our global head of product, will become LinkedIn’s next CEO. Ryan will report directly to Satya and serve as a member of his senior leadership team, in the same way I have over the last three years,” the statement said.

When Jeff Wiener became the CEO of LinkedIn in 2008, the career social media platform was having 33 million users only. His 11 years on the job at LinkedIn saw a transformational experience and massive growth; the platform saw increase in users to the tune of 675 million and counting.

Weiner’s prodigious leadership in the company has provided scintillating experiences for companies, HR professionals and job seekers. LinkedIn has become a mediator bridging the wide gap that used to exist between these parties. The basic version is free, providing limited but essential features for users in the career field, while the premium offers extra features at a cost. However, the platform has given people the opportunity to share ideas, connect with professionals, advertise jobs, and get jobs, all at the comfort of their fingertips.

Weiner’s ideas and approach to work has resulted in LinkedIn’s expansion to Ireland, where the social media platform is currently employing 1,200 staff led by Sharon McCooey. The next destination of its expansion is Dubai…

LinkedIn went public in 2011, and was purchased in 2016 by Microsoft at the cost of $27 billion, the biggest acquisition the software has made. The social media giant has since taken a leap to the success side of business, commanding a workforce of over 16,000 employees and generating $7.5 billion in revenue. And as Weiner noted, “it feels like LinkedIn is just getting started.”

Notably, the progress wasn’t as a result of Weiner’s solo efforts only, others in LinkedIn have augmented his visionary leadership ever since he joined the company from Yahoo.

“When you’re fortunate enough to work at the right company, with the right people, at the right time, a job can become something much greater than just a job.” Jeff Weiner said. “The company’s mission and vision become indistinguishable from your own true north, helping you find even greater clarity and sense of purpose.”

Ryan Roslansky is one of the figures in LinkedIn who helped shape the company. He was the first employee hired by Weiner and has gone ahead to win the praise of his boss with his innovativeness.

“He has been essential to the company’s success ever since,” Weiner said of Ryan. “Ryan has been a key architect in reshaping LinkedIn’s increasingly complex consumer and enterprise applications into a single, holistic, global ecosystem. In doing so, he has helped lead one of the best performing stretches in the company’s history.”

Another notable character in the success story is Tomer Cohen, who Jeff described as “an inspiring leader” and who has been instrumental in shaping their product ecosystem strategy. Tomer worked in many departments of LinkedIn and stood out in all, a reason he was chosen to take the place of Ryan.

“Tomer exemplifies the best of collaboration at LinkedIn by working without boundaries across the organization and has an unwavering focus on building products that drive significant value for members and customers. I couldn’t be more confident in the future of our product team and strategy under his leadership,” Weiner said.

One significant lesson in this succession changes is “grooming.” Each one of them has been prepared, mentored to take the position with ease, a strategy for preservation of a successful legacy. Weiner acknowledged the mentorship of LinkedIn’s founder Reid Hoffman, and pledged to do the same to others who will be stepping into bigger shoes.

“As for my role going forward, Ryan and I discussed the value of serving as Executive Chairman as Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn, did for me.” Weiner said in acknowledgement of Hoffman’s mentorship. “This is especially meaningful given there is no individual who has had more influence on my tenure as CEO than Reid. As LinkedIn’s new Executive Chairman, I hope to serve in much the same way.”

So it appears that while Reid was grooming Weiner for the position of Executive Chairman, Weiner was grooming Ryan for the role of Chief Executive Officer, and Ryan was doing the same for Tomer. This common sense principle of in-house breeding of successors defies the norm of dependence on already made CEOs and top executives. It doesn’t only preserve the work space relationship; it creates opportunity of growth for the company and its employees.

Upon acquisition, Microsoft allowed LinkedIn to operate independently, a decision that has undoubtedly spurred its growth and development. LinkedIn’s co-founder Allen Blue told CNBC: “All the growth we’ve been seeing has been in the way we’ve been operating our own businesses.”

Apparently, LinkedIn caved out a niche for itself as it is evident in the recent changes in roles at the company.

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