You Add Value To People When You Value Them

Trust Your Team

A team is not a group of people who work together. A team is a group of people who trust each other. “We overuse the word ‘team’ in companies. This team is doing this, that team is doing that… But at the end of the day, they don’t necessarily have a team ethic, because a team ethic means that I’m going to ask you to help me to do work and I don’t have to double check what you’re doing, that I can turn my back and trust that you won’t stab me, that there’s no gossip and no politics. That’s a real team. The members take care of each other and want to see each other succeed. Usually what we get with the things that are called teams inside companies is a group of people who are tasked to work together but put their self-interests ahead of the group and ahead of the company”.

True strength is the courage to admit weakness.

“There’s a lot of talk in business today about the importance of vulnerability. But this doesn’t mean you walk around crying all the time. Vulnerability means having the ability to admit that you made a mistake or the courage to say you’re afraid and you fear for the future. When I talk about admitting weakness, I mean those very human qualities of doubt or uncertainty or feeling unqualified. The irony is that the inability of people to admit their weaknesses actually makes a company weaker. Because when mistakes are made, people will cover them up. And if you’re putting people in jobs they don’t know how to do, they won’t tell you. What makes a company strong is to create an environment in which people can say, ‘I need help’, and their boss goes, ‘Sure, what do you need?’ A good leader creates an environment that allows us to admit our vulnerabilities and mistakes nobody’s perfect so admit it apologise and move on.

“So many leaders are trying so hard to look like they have all the answers and never have any doubt about anything, least of all themselves, and they never make mistakes. Well, guess what kind of pressure that puts on the rest of us. Because we all make mistakes, we all have self-doubt and we all know that we are not always qualified for the jobs that we’re doing but, because we think our boss is qualified, we have to keep up the act. So most of us spend all of our days lying, hiding and faking. But by our attempt to act strong, we make the company weak. If we would admit our humanity, we would make the company strong”.

Leaders give us the chance to try and fail, then give us the chance to try and succeed.

Leadership is like being a parent. When our children are learning the alphabet, if they get it wrong, we don’t put them up for adoption, we say, ‘Try again’. When we teach them how to ride a bicycle and they fail over and scrape their knees, we don’t go, ‘It’s too dangerous, you can’t do it, clearly you’re not qualified!’ We say, ‘Don’t worry, you’ll be fine. I’m here, try again’. But for some reason, in a work environment, that sense of fostering a talent and confidence in someone seems to go away. We give people responsibility and, if they don’t succeed the first time, we either yell at them or in extreme cases we let them go. We forget that the leader put them in that position of responsibility, and they bear some responsibility, like a parent.

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“If we only put people in positions where they will always succeed first time, that means no one’s going to take risks or push boundaries or try something new, so all you’ll get is mediocrity. If we want to have something beyond mediocre, if we want excellence, we have no choice but to allow people to try and to try again and to try again. Most people want to do well and most people like pushing themselves and like feeling good when they accomplish something more that they thought they were capable of, like the child who discovers they can ride a bicycle. The problem is, there’s a process, and good leaders understand that it’s a journey and something instantaneous”.

Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion.

“Very often we talk about how stressed out we are at work and how if we did more yoga or worked fewer hours, the stress would go away. But at the end of the day, that has nothing to do with it. When we’re passionate about something, we often work very hard for many, many hours but we get a joy out of that work because we know what it’s contributing to. Very often we treat symptoms rather than causes. We’re working to alleviate the stress and yet we ignore the fact that it’s not necessarily the amount of work that we’re doing or how hard we’re working, it’s that we don’t feel like the work that we’re doing is contributing to something bigger than ourselves —

there’s no sense of purpose or cause in our work. I want people to find that purpose, because that’s what makes the stress turn into passion”.

The true value of a leader is not measured by the work they do, it is measured by the work they inspire others to do.

“Very often we measure our leaders by financial results. If the numbers go up, we say that the leader did well, and yet that’s not really the job of leadership. A good leader knows that they’re not actually responsible for the results, they’re responsible for the people who are responsible for the results. I used to work at a company a long time ago where there was a terrible leader. He used to go through employees like most of us go through underpants. People would just keep quitting and the senior management would sit around the table and say they were hiring the wrong people, and nobody ever said, ‘It’s the damn leader!’ And that happens all too often. We never let the responsibility lie with the leader when people are struggling — we blame the people. In my experience, it’s rarely the people, it’s usually the leader”.

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“It doesn’t matter when we start. It doesn’t matter where we start. All that matters is that we start.”

“All the time I hear people talking about how they want a different job but they’re not ready yet. Or how they wish they could change their life but they’re not sure when.    Or, they have a dream of starting a business but they don’t have enough money or the market conditions aren’t right. Everyone has a million excuses as to why they shouldn’t do something, but really if you want to do anything, you just have to start. You don’t have to start big — you can start small. You don’t have to have it all figured out, but you’ve got to go on the journey. It’s about momentum. Read books, read articles, become a student of the thing that you want to do even if you don’t make the physical change just yet. The point is, take some action that moves you even one step closer to the thing that you desire”.

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