In this series, professionals thank those who helped them reach where they are today. Read the posts here, then write your own. Use #ThankYourMentor and @mention your mentor when sharing. I drafted this post in August of 2015.
From law to global health and entrepreneurship to education, I’ve had many bosses, but the past 7 months at LinkedIn were made by one man. I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy most of my jobs but never before have I wanted to come to work in the same way. I attribute this inclination in large part to my boss, Jeff Roy.
Jeff, or JRoy, as he was almost universally called, was a) humble, b) ambitious, c) compassionate, d) reassuring, e) rigorous.
JRoy would always joke that he did not deserve his leadership position. He described his path from a B student at B schools to management within LinkedIn Sales Solutions – a group that many aspire to within a hyper-growth company – as the result of luck. Yet his endearing modesty concealed natural skills in sales, and more importantly management expertise, that were carefully honed over years. While I looked up to JRoy from the moment I met him, he never spoke down to me or any of my teammates. We were all equals and in his post-departure absence, our team’s cohesion is a testament to the solidarity created by this equality and mutual support.
The strength of our team also came from a strong desire to be the best. Sales is inherently competitive and LinkedIn does a fantastic job of motivating its reps through sales processes, business structures, benefits and compensation. Taking this to the next level, Jeff created a team that surpassed expectations and excelled even among other LinkedIn teams. This success was based on a communal ambition that resembled that of an elite military unit as much any sales group.
This unit is also made up of the best. Carefully selected from other LinkedIn teams and from outside of the organization, my colleagues are diverse in their backgrounds and approaches but share many of the attributes that made JRoy an amazing boss. Yet JRoy and I often discussed the importance of hiring individuals that are different from each other and challenge each other as much as those who are similar and naturally cohere. JRoy hired carefully, often taking longer than other managers, but our team is evidence of his successfully balancing these competing goals.
Never have I felt as individually supported as I did under JRoy’s leadership. One of the management lessons he explicitly taught me was to focus on your colleagues, and particularly your juniors, as individuals first. Listen to and support their career ambitions and their success will result in your own success as a leader. Help them achieve their goals and they will help you win any battle. Like much of his advice, this lesson came from a combination of his own experience and the insights from the many books on management, spirituality and self-improvement that covered JRoy’s desk.
Instead of meeting in a board room or a breakout room, JRoy and I would go for walks outside. Coffee in hand, he would ask about my travels and my parties, and I about his wife and child. At other times, We would joke about his neighbours and even train for athletics together. We are now friends first, rather than former colleagues. The trust and sense of reassurance that JRoy created are a testament to his mastery of the professional relationship.
Together, JRoy’s modesty and his drive, his empathy and his support, made him an incredible boss.
Thank you JRoy.