Leadership Lessons from the LinkedIn Publishing Platform Team

As many might have heard, the LinkedIn publishing platform recently eclipsed an incredible ONE MILLION unique and spirited writers who author in excess of 130,000 posts per week. This really is an incredible accomplishment to be celebrated.

To promote this significant milestone, the company used …. you guessed it … *the* LinkedIn publishing platform via Daniel Roth’s post – which I encourage everyone to read.

Like many of the 1,000,000+ writers that now share this stage, I was encouraged (by some kind souls) to start sharing experience and my own failures & learning moments back to a broader audience on a regular basis. As scared as I was to try this, the launch of the LinkedIn publishing platform gave me a gentle nudge to experiment and learn through public writings. I agonized over my first post, and despite my best efforts, it was a total flop. I even recall a piece of feedback like: “Your post is academic and offers nothing new.” – Ouch.

Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently. – Henry Ford

Transparent feedback presents enormous learning opportunities for all of us, so I have leveraged feedback to fuel continuous learning and adaptation – all in an effort to create an evolving message that will (hopefully) have a positive effect in people that I might never get the chance to meet face-to-face.

One day, we will just be just a memory for many people. Let’s do our best to leave lasting memories that matter.

In the spirit of my own professional purpose, I invite you to enter this brief ‘experiment’ where I attempt to offer a sampling of leadership lessons from the LinkedIn publishing platform Team’s journey. I believe there is more to offer here, so I invite us to open a dialogue in the comments section below.

What can LinkedIn teach us about leadership?


1. Great leaders have a purpose-driven vision, not a profit-driven vision.

As Daniel Roth reflects on the platform Team’s journey, he expressed a ‘shared purpose’ that has inspired millions around the globe to start conversations that transcend companies, competitors, industries and geographies. Imagine that you’re an organizational executive at LinkedIn and you hop into an elevator full of fellow employees. How would you connect others to this shared purpose in 60 seconds or less?


We want insight to turn into conversations that make an impact.

…unlock the incredible insights stuck in the brains and cubicles of professionals…


2. Great leaders step off the stage and enable greatness in others.

To this day, I carry profound leadership learning moments that surfaced during my college years as a percussion performer in Marching Music’s Major League (see Drum Corps International). Through the tireless efforts of our organization’s director and staff, a Team of 128 performers were taught, coached and mentored to a high level of performance that — when brought to the large stage of a packed football stadium — would bring 20,000+ spectators to their feet with an enormous and *deafening* roar of delight that would make your ears ring. When these moments of lasting greatness emerged, the director and staff would be nondescript members of the audience.

It’s such a powerful expression of great leadership to melt away behind the scenes with humility as your efforts are celebrated through the greatness of others around you.


In fact, one of our leaders shared a remarkable moment where a spectator (in one of these deafening audience-inspired moments) physically hugged him and said: “Wow….this is so incredible! Can you believe how amazing this show is?!?” – and that spectator had no idea that he was the executive director for the entire organization. In that moment, however, he was just another spectator enjoying the greatness that emerged on the stage.

This is how I see the LinkedIn publishing platform – it’s the stage for enabling others, and it’s not about the LinkedIn platform Team taking the credit. In fact, they use the celebratory post to lift the 1 millionth poster to new heights, as well as 15 other member posts worth reading – and not just hyperlinks to posts. They carefully and thoughtfully offered their own perspective on some of the posts to inspire others to click through.


3. Great leaders are vulnerable and courageous.

Daniel Roth recounts vulnerable moments in the fall of 2012 as the small, purposeful platform Team was on the edge of launch. This part of the post is worth some time to absorb, so you can relate it to your own experience (4th paragraph). I can actually feel the stress within the Team as they were collaborating on worst-case scenarios, wondering what was going to happen when they pulled the trigger, and taking the calculated risk to ‘go big’ at launch rather than a more conservative pilot launch. I have lived through these pre-launch situations many times in my career and they are scary, often anxiety-ridden, but also exciting at the same time. But to confront them as a leader, it requires courage.

If you were part of the Team on that memorable night, how would you show leadership in the moment to inspire everyone through launch?


4. <Insert your own lesson here>.

To take LinkedIn’s lead, let’s share the stage together and see what emerges.


What other leadership lessons can we learn from LinkedIn’s publishing platform success? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below so we can all learn from each other.


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