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Elena A.'s Key Ideas from Powerful
by Patty McCord

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Powerful: The Five Practices Of Netflix Culture

  • Open, clear and constant communication: across the entire company about the work to be done and challenges being faced.
  • Radical honesty: telling one another, and management, the truth in a timely fashion and ideally face to face.
  • Debating based on fact-based opinions: at Netflix, employees are expected to have strong, fact-based opinions and to debate them avidly and test them rigidly.
  • Customer and company first: people base their actions on what’s best for the customer and the company, not on attempts to prove themselves right.
  • Preparing teams for the future: The right skills with potential.


388 reads

Face the challenges: Being Comfortable with Change

The most successful organizations will be the ones in which everyone, on every team, understands that all bets are off and everything is changing – and thinks that’s great.

Being comfortable with change is not easy. It can feel safer to be a slow-moving, command and control organization where senior leaders have all the answers.

One of the biggest mistakes poor leaders and managers make is to want to be the boss,  thinking that they tell everyone what to do, and do not want anyone to challenge them. In today’s rapidly changing, hyper-competitive world, that approach is fatal.


159 reads

The One Job Of A Manager

A business leader’s job is to create great teams that do amazing work on time. That’s it. That’s the job of management.

If you and your managers build great teams, they will help you solve your toughest problems.

While you help them focus on the most important work, many other distractions will melt away; the root problem of many dysfunctional teams is due to misaligned incentives and different visions. If everyone is moving in the same clear direction, and you’ve hired good people, you’ll be amazed how much better things will go.


134 reads

Solving Problems With Discipline, Not Processes

When employees start to whine about a process, the CEO has to really dig into what’s bothering them, because they hate senseless bureaucracy, not discipline.

When your company grows, there are more people to keep connected, more to coordinate, and the stakes are higher. It’s only logical to be more disciplined.

It may seem like a subtle change from “process” to “discipline”, but it can make a big difference in how your team thinks about the changes that are needed. Many people dislike “process”, but most people agree some level of discipline is helpful.


108 reads

Challenges Are Great

Efficient teams are created by hiring talented people who are adults and want nothing more than to tackle a challenge, and then communicating to them, clearly and continuously, about what that challenge is.

Are your employees aware of your business’s biggest challenges? Do you listen to their ideas on how to address it? If you hire good people, and communicate your real needs with them, they will help you overcome them and grow.

Excellent colleagues, a clear purpose, and a well-understood deliverable: that’s a powerful combination.


95 reads

Feedback on Action

The most important thing about giving feedback is that it must be about behaviour, rather than some essential characteristics of a person, like ‘you’re unfocused’.

You cannot sugarcoat feedback, or the spirit behind it and its importance can be missed. At the same time, you don’t want to make it a personal attack, either. That will only cause them to become defensive and resistant.

Make feedback about an action, not the person, and you may be surprised how much easier feedback discussions become.


68 reads

Leading By Example

You have to exhibit the courage you want people to have.

Actions speak louder than words. What you do as a leader says more than even the most inspiring speech. Lead by example to have a great company culture. If the CEO of Netflix can admit he’s wrong, then so can any staff member in the organization.

If you aren’t willing to live the values you want your team to exhibit, don’t make their values. Otherwise, those un-lived values will become the ones people snicker at and mock when complaining to their friends about their job.


62 reads

Feedback: Truth To Power

The benefit of being radically honest: If you want to know what people are thinking, there is no good replacement for simply asking them, best of all face to face.

If you want a culture of candor and accountability, you may want to consider simple, direct feedback, too.


70 reads

Great Hiring: Hard But Crucial

Collaborating with HR to hire is just the beginning of building a great team. It also includes asking tough questions like, “Are we limited by the team we have, not the team we should have?”

Asking hard questions like this helps you not only hire good people now, but make sure you are thinking about what you need in the future. As the Wayne Gretzky attributed saying goes, you should skate where the puck is going.


61 reads

Perks Don’t Work

Great teams are not created with incentives, procedures, and perks. They are created by hiring talented people who are adults and want nothing more than to tackle a challenge, and then communicating to them, clearly and continuously, about what the challenge is.

Instead of perks, one should:

  • Having great managers people enjoy working with.
  • Providing (or reimbursing for) the training that will help your employees grow into future roles.
  • Increasing salaries to help you compete for the best possible talent that others will be excited to work with.


74 reads

Work Requires Teams, Not Families

There’s a big difference between a team and a family: teams change regularly and are optimized to win at all times, while families strive to stick together no matter what.

Treating employees like teammates instead of family can be scary if you’ve never thought that way, but if you’re scaling your business or making significant changes, you may have no choice. Be mindful of the approach you take; loyalty is great, but not if it’s at the cost of your team member’s happiness and the needs of your business.


81 reads

Powerful: The Six Month Exercise

  1. Imagine six months from now, you have the most amazing team you ever assembled and you’re saying to yourself, “Wow, those guys are awesome! I can’t believe what they’re accomplishing.”
  2. First write down what the team will be accomplishing six months from now that it’s not accomplishing now. now. Use all the figures you want.
  3. For those different things to be happening, what would people need to know how to do? What kind of skills and experience would it take for the team to operate the way you’re envisioning and accomplish the things you’ll need to do in that future?


85 reads



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