There are two men I admire greatly for their business acumen and ability to inspire, Jeff Weiner of LinkedIn and Gary Vaynerchuk of VaynerMedia. What’s interesting is that these two individuals have completely different, almost opposite leadership styles. The question is thus worth asking, is one better than the other?
Jeff is the quintessential California CEO. He is incredibly smart but beyond humble. He inspires through action and constantly puts his employees first. He practices what he preaches and knows his product inside and out. In fact, it’s hard to use LinkedIn and not see Jeff liking and commenting on employees posts from all over the world. It has become an honor for LinkedIn employees to get the thumbs up from Jeff. It is for these reasons that Jeff has created a celebrity aura that few CEO elites have obtained.
Gary is the exact opposite and is the embodiment of a New York CEO. He is loud, crude, self-promoting to the point of pretentiousness, and in your face more than any stranger should be. He is also dripping with passion, which is beyond inspiring, and he generously shares his immense knowledge with the world at no cost. Like Jeff, he knows his product inside and out and demonstrates that knowledge every day with a constant stream of content that takes over your social channels. He has built an empire starting from absolutely nothing and is a shining example of the American dream.
So, which style is better when it comes to leadership? The answer is that it depends on who is asking.
Having lived and worked on both coasts, I have experienced how different people’s needs are as employees and people, and what inspires them to be better. Some have the east coast hustle attitude and love living in a world of constant action and disorganized chaos. Some prefer robust processes and procedures, value work-life balance above all and place a large focus on emotional intelligence and mindfulness. Some people want to be led while others want to lead. Some want to pave new roads while others want to improve the roads already paved. Some want to wake up and start hustling while other wants to meditate and visualize their day.
There is no right answer for what leadership style is best, but what both Gary and Jeff have gotten right is that they have a personality and style, and they are sticking to it. They don’t change who they are every day based on the craziness of their job or the demands of their shareholders. They are who they are. By being clear about their values and intentions, they build loyal teams that complement each other and make one another better.
There are countless articles and books claiming to have the secret to being the best leader, but the reality is that staying true to who you are and surrounding yourself with people who believe in your vision and mission will always deliver the best results. You don’t have to change your personality to fit a mold just because you read about a CEO who installed slides in their office or implemented unlimited vacation for employees. People want to follow leaders that stay true to the mission and who lead by example. You can’t be everything to everyone, so the safe move is to be yourself.
By Keith Bendes
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