- Attract, nurture, coach, and retain talent.
- Communicate what the next most important challenge the company/team is facing.
- Set goals, not tasks.
- Be the tiebreaker when your team can’t reach consensus.
- Be the information hub. Know what everyone is working on, and connect the dots that wouldn’t otherwise get connected.
- Create a feedback-safe environment, where people feel heard, and celebrate critical feedback. Lead by example
- Keep an eye on your team's health and happiness.
- Hire the right people to succeed at the team goals and ensure everyone on the team's strengths matches their roles.
- Give your team a clear path to progress in their careers.
- Micromanage your teams work or daily output (creative work isn’t an assembly line). If you find yourself supervising too often, you've hired the wrong people.
- Publicly shame (ever).
- Accept gossip or intra-team politics.
- Ship your own projects before you enable your team.
- Spend your time doing too much IC work. For every direct report, dedicate roughly 15% of your time to managing them. A manager with 7 reports should have very little bandwidth for IC work.
- Tech work is a seller’s market: people work for you because they believe in you. Access to their talent is a privilege.
- Authority isn’t bestowed freely. It’s earned by repeatedly making good decisions.
- Don’t make decisions unless you have to. Whenever possible, allow the team to explore ideas and make decisions on its own.
- Determine how much buy-in a decision needs. Delegate accordingly.
- Help make decisions when necessary; few things are as demoralizing as a stalled team.
- Don’t shoot down ideas until it’s necessary. Create an environment where everyone feels safe to share and explore ideas.
A manager’s output
=The output of her team
+The output of the neighboring teams under her influence.
You are measured as a leader on how many people you need on your team to achieve the desired output, i.e. your managerial leverage. In other words, how much are you able to do with as few people as possible.
When adding someone, ask yourself if someone is:
- Individually so productive that they raise the average productivity of your team?
- OR they act as a multiplier to everyone else on the team
If the answer is no to both questions, don’t add them to your team.
- Hire great people, then trust them completely. Default to trust, then let anyone go who doesn't live up to that trust.
- You’re the one who makes final hiring and firing decisions. Everything that happens on your team is your responsibility.
- If you feel something’s wrong, you’re probably right. Trust your gut.
- If you find yourself blaming someone, you’re probably wrong. Nobody wakes up and tries to do a bad job. 95% of the time you can resolve your feelings by running a respectful clearing session.
- People make emotional decisions 90% - 100% of the time. Including you. All intellectual arguments have strong emotional undercurrents. You’ll be dramatically more efficient once you learn to figure out what those are.
- Most people don't easily share their emotions. It's your job to pull them out and set the example by sharing your own.
- Have the courage to say what everyone knows to be true but isn’t saying.
- Discover and fix cultural problems your team may not be aware of. Have the courage to say what everyone should know but doesn’t.
- Unless you’re a sociopath, firing people is so hard you’ll invent excuses not to do it. If you’re consistently wondering if someone’s a good fit for too long, have the courage to do what you know is right.
Zone of Genius
- People’s performance consists of a mixture of skills, strengths, and talents.
- A strength is anything that gives you energy.
- A talent is an innate ability that can’t be taught.
- A skill is a competency that can be taught.
- When all three are aligned, we are in our zone of genius.
- It’s often clear when talent isn’t present. Strengths are less clear. Beware the zone of competence, where someone is good at doing a function but doesn’t get energy from it - it will ultimately lead to burn out.
- Every person is unique.
- You can’t turn weaknesses into strengths, or create talent where there is none. These things are innate.
- All you can teach are skills. Direct your feedback there.
- Focus on doubling down on someone’s existing Zone of Genius.
- Align people’s work with what they’re already good at.
- There are no such things as an A player in isolation. There is an A team, where each member on the team brings distinct value.
- Ask yourself whether this person is capable of doing the work you want them to do if their life depended on it. Is it a question of motivation or a question of capability?
- If their life depended on it and they could do it, then that’s on you as a leader not providing the proper motivation.
- If however, they would be unable to do it even if their life depended on it, then that is your mistake as a manager for expecting them to be able to.
- Don’t judge too quickly; you’re right less often than you think. Even if you’re sure you’re right in any given case, wait until everyone’s opinion is heard. Remember that you are the loudest voice in the room.
- Once everyone is heard, summarize all points of view so clearly that people say “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.” List any points of agreement with each view, and state what you’ve learned from everyone. Then make your decision.
- Set the expectation that once a decision has been made, everyone gets onboard.
- Reopen the discussion if there is significant new information.
- Don’t let people pressure you into decisions you don’t believe in. They’ll hold you responsible for them later, and they’ll be right. Decisions are your responsibility.
- Believe in yourself. You can’t lead a cavalry charge if you think you look funny on a horse.
- When disagreement gets personal or people don’t accept well-reasoned decisions, it turns into conflict.
- Most conflict happens because people don’t feel heard or don't feel like they have agency to control their world.
- Sit down with each person and ask them how they feel. Listen carefully. Then ask again. And again. Then summarize what they said back to them. Most of the time that will solve the problem.
- If the conflict persists after you’ve gone to reasonable lengths to hear everyone out and fix problems, it’s time for a clearing conversation.
- Run your clearing as soon as possible
- Try not to assume or jump to conclusions before the clearing.
- Understand where you are in the drama triangle Villain, Victim, Hero
- Before starting ask, "am I above or below the line?"
- Use the template — seriously. The formula works.
- Have the courage to state how you feel and what you need. People are drawn to each other’s vulnerability but repelled by their own. Vulnerability isn’t weakness.
- Expect people to extend you the same courtesy. If someone makes you feel bad for stating your needs and feelings, then they don't belong at Clearbit.
- People will push and prod to discover your boundaries. Knowing when to stand back and when to stand firm is half the battle.
- Occasionally someone will push too far. When they do, you have to show a rough edge or you’ll lose authority with your team.
- A firm “That's not ok here” or "I'm not OK with that" is usually enough.
- Don’t laugh things off if you don’t feel like laughing them off. Have the courage to show your true emotions.
- If you have to firmly say “I’m not ok with that” too many times to the same person, it’s your job to fire them.