Work the Team first, then the Problem - Deepstash

Work the Team first, then the Problem

When faced with a challenge or an opportunity, the first thing is to make sure the right team is working on it.

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Trillion Dollar Coach

by Eric Schmidt

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The top priority of a manager is the performance of her people. A good manager is also a good coach: he creates an environment of support, respect and trust:

  • Support: giving people the information & tools to succeed.
  • Respect: understand people uniqueness and help connect them to the needs of the company.
  • Trust: free people to make their own decisions.

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Bill Campbell 1-1s Formula
  • Start with personal small talk
  • Move to performance. What are you working on? How is it going? How can I help?
  • Relationship with peers: what do your colleagues think?
  • Team: What is not clear? Do we have the right people? Who do we need to hire?
  • Innovation: Are we working on bigger changes? Did we try new things or new technology?

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The manager's job is to run a decision making process that ensures all perspectives get heard & considered, and, if necessary, to break ties and make the decision.

Tactical advice:

  • Make sure every team member is company first not me first.
  • Discuss conflicting issues in 1-1s prior to a meeting
  • As a leader be the last one to talk
  • When a wining idea does not emerge, step in and make the call. Use first principles, truths everyone already agrees on, to make the call.

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Running a board meeting

It's the CEOs job to manage boards, not the other way around.

  • The status of the company should be communicated beforehand in writing.
  • The update should contain the highlights, alongside honest lowlights.

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Look at skills & mindset, the 🧠 smarts and the ❤️ hearts and hire for what the person can become if coached correctly. Look for:

  • Smarts, not academically, but the ability to get up to speed quickly.
  • Hard working
  • Integrity
  • GRIT: perseverance of effort for a particular long-term goal.

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Efficient teams trust each other. Bill Campbell always advocates to build the trust muscle first. It's the basis for psychological safety:

  • Trust means you keep your word. If you say you will do something... Do it.
  • Trust means loyalty. To your company, your team and your family.
  • Trust means integrity. Say the truth and expect nothing else in return.
  • Truth means discretion. Keep secrets.

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Bill Campbell didn't separate the working self from personal self. He worked with persons and acknowledged their emotions, struggles and professional achievements.

He sweater a lot, hugged almost everyone and he was a straight shooter. But he had a way of communicating that people knew he is coming from a place of love.

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Being a great boss means telling what you thing in a way that shows you care:

  • Don't wait for the oficial performance review to share feedback.
  • Engage with empathy
  • Listen actively when the other person is speaking.
  • Don't offer pronouncements. Use the Socratic method and ask questions until the answer emerges.

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Good managers connect with people on a personal level in 1-1s or staff meetings:

  • Share trip reports
  • Discuss family
  • Etc...

"Getring people to share stories, to be personal with each other, is a tactic to ensure better decision-making and camaraderie."

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The key to any productivity system is to focus on value, not effort.

Instead of focusing on completing as many tasks as possible from your to-do list, focus on the highest-impact actions that will create long-term value. 

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Hidden games

Hidden games are played in sandboxes that people don’t even realize exist. Hidden games have a higher return, but they are more long-term and abstract. For example, a hidden game is starting a business in an unsexy industry (i.e., building tunnels with Elon Musk).

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The concept of servant leadership
The actual term for a leader who upends the power pyramid to put others' needs first was introduced by Robert Greenleaf in his influential 1970 essay "The Servant As Leader" in 1970.

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