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Who do smart people work for ?

"Smart people do not work for people who do not have their interests in mind and in heart."
Truly great leaders create an environment where the employee feels that the CEO cares more about the employees. Amazing things happen only in this kind of environment.

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Story is the output of strategic work

Most often entrepreneurs talk about story and strategy as being separate – story is focussed outwards (for investors) and strategy is focussed inwards (for team).

Ben Horowitz says that is not how one should look at it.In his book “The hard thing about hard things” his point about strategy is very clear and goes like this

“In good companies the story and the strategy are the same thing. As a result, the proper output of all the strategic work is the story.”

The Hard Thing About Hard Things

If you try to build a “story” without having really worked towards it in a strategic manner, it will result in disconnect and eventually failure.

#leadership #successmantra #startups #inspirationoftheday #thehardthing

Focus, focus and focus !

“We must realize—and act on the realization—that if we try to focus on everything, we focus on nothing.”
From “Measure what matters” by John Doerr

If you have not read “Measure what matters” by the legendary John Doerr then read it today. For me the single biggest learning from it is simple – focus.

He says it out loud and very clear – “We must realize—and act on the realization—that if we try to focus on everything, we focus on nothing.” Most often entrepreneurs try to chase too many shining opportunities, all at the same time, only to realise they fell short of resources or simply their own bandwidth.

I admire InVision in this regard which has been razor focussed on their product and users. It has proven SaaS is the way to go for all imaginable type of softwares.

Satya Nadella on CEO and Culture

"The CEO is the curator of an organization’s culture."

I recently finished reading “Hit Refresh” by Satya Nadella and I must say the book gives an excellent insight into how Satya has been able to transform Microsoft and it’s culture. The fact that its valuation tripled in five years since his taking charge is the least that can convince people to understand the importance of culture for an organization.

I recently finished reading “Hit Refresh” by Satya Nadella and I must say the book gives an excellent insight into how Satya has been able to transform Microsoft and it’s culture. The fact that its valuation tripled in five years since his taking charge is the least that can convince people to understand the importance of culture for an organization.

Anything is possible for a company when its culture is about listening, learning, and harnessing individual passions and talents to the company’s mission. Creating that kind of culture is my chief job as CEO.

Microsoft’s culture had been rigid. Each employee had to prove to everyone that he or she was the smartest person in the room. Accountability—delivering on time and hitting numbers—trumped everything. Meetings were formal. If a senior leader wanted to tap the energy and creativity of someone lower down in the organization, she or he needed to invite that person’s boss, and so on. Hierarchy and pecking order had taken control, and spontaneity and creativity had suffered.

He took upon himself to change all of that – and he has succeeded. This summarizes his thinking very well:

“The CEO is the curator of an organization’s culture.”

“The C in CEO stands for Culture.”

I have reproduced couple of paragraphs from an article by Fast Company, which can be accessed here – https://www.fastcompany.com/40457741/satya-nadella-the-c-in-ceo-stands-for-culture

Command and control leadership

12 years back Deborah Ancona, Thomas Malone, Wanda Orlikowski and Peter Senge authored this article, which remains relevant even today. This one sentence itself makes clear the role of leaders in today’s world:

“In today’s world, the executive’s job is no longer to command and control but to cultivate and coordinate the actions of others at all levels of the organization.”

In praise of the incomplete leader

The article mentioned four key capabilities and the balance between them – sensemaking, relating, visioning, and inventing – and it clearly establishes the relevance for organisations across all sizes.

Gone are the days already when one could stake its claim to a leadership role simply because of background, pedigree or seniority in terms of number of years of experience. With so many young and brilliant minds joining the workforce, equipped with the power of latest technologies and tools, the successful organisations will be the ones which are able to:

  • Encourage free exchange of ideas
  • Discard unnecessary paper work and bureaucracy in favor of using web based tools
  • Facilitate employees in learning more and finding better solutions

I believe the command and control type of leadership emerged because of the generations which grew up in the post world war era because they were in awe of the military might, rightly so maybe. And hence it may have resonated with the generations wherein one was expected to follow orders in an era of rapid industrial growth, post 1950s.

Now, especially post 1990s when we look at the world, it got a lot knowledge driven and now probably more data driven. It means not just the demography but people’s behaviour as well has changed – being knowledge driven means you encourage people to ask questions which is starkly different than a command and control style where you are supposed to follow instructions without asking.

AI bots as managers ?

If we remove the ability to have an emotional connect and being able to form meaningful bonds then we can as well hire AI bots to lead us, don’t really need a human leader. At the end I believe AI is going to make us more human by forcing us to focus on traits which define us as a human, something which no AI can manage (yet). #AI #Leadership

This article by Rasmus Hougaard, Jacqueline Carter and Vince Brewerton in Harvard Business Review reminds managers that they are human beings.

Why Do So Many Managers Forget They’re Human Beings?

There is another old article from HBR which touches upon the subject of having robots as managers. It kinds of explores the subject with both pros and cons of having a robot as a manager.

In the end it simply depends on people – there are those who have seen abusive managers and leaders and are ready to give bots a chance to manage assuming it will still be better than what they have faced already while there are those who had an opportunity to work with really good humans as their managers and leaders who will never accept AI bots as their managers. Maybe, a time will come when everybody will have to make a choice between the two.