Tips from Bill Campbell on Coaching Trillions

A few tidbits from a book I was recommended a ways back called Trillion Dollar Coach: The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley’s Bill Campbell that really got me going:

The Power of Community

Bill shares that communities form in a number of ways but that the companies that succeed are the ones that have a culture where teams within the company act as a community themselves. Conversely, a lack or dearth of a community sense or feeling can lead to burnout and eventual issues with retention.

If you can’t put the team first and create a culture where it’s more common to subordinate the individual’s performance for the sake of the team’s, then, it’s unlikely that you’ll build a long-standing, enduring company.

Tension Matters, Don’t Kill It

The former CFO of Google, Patrick Pichette, once said that creative, ambbitious, opinionated and competitive folks will naturally create “tension in the machine” and that that tension is a good thing because without you’ll become irrelevant.

There is also a tension between creativity and efficiency, naturally, and a study from 1991 revealed that between the “implementation stage of innovation” you need managers to coordinate resources and resolve conflicts but creativity flourishes more in network-oriented systems than hierarchical. You’ll need both of these elements in a functioning, scalable business.

Coaching, All The Things

I’ve spoken a ton about coaching on this blog and I’ll continue to herald it as long as I possibly can: Every great team has an army of coaches that helped build them up. Coaching, as Bill puts it, is the best way to create high-performance teams, full-stop.

I can’t imagine not having one for my own team and we spend time every year investing in ourselves individually and independently and also corporately as a team. Right now, we’re going through an exercise involving the Enneagram and I took my assessment yesterday — here’s a high-level of my results:

We have a workshop coming up with a coach to go through the results.

Everyone who wants to go further, faster, should get a coach and if you want to accelerate your entire team, then, group coaching is where it’s at.

20 More Culture, Management, and Leadership Tips

If you want to build a great product, business, and organization, then you’ll want to empower your people to succeed. What does this mean? It means some of the following:

  1. You’ll want to support your folks by providing adequate training and coaching when they need it.
  2. Listening to their needs, you’ll learn to build respect and mutual understanding once you understand each person’s unique career goals and aspirations. Being sensitive to these things matter.
  3. Trust is the lifeblood of any organization. Do everything you can to build and then defend it.
  4. A manager’s top priority is simple: Maximizing the well-being and success of their team.
  5. Building a fun work environment actually carries a very high return on investment and is directly tied to high performance. Academics call this socio-emotional communication but it’s just “fun”.
  6. Building rapport with team members goes a very long way. One-on-ones are effective ways to do this but also in larger settings as well.
  7. The “Rule of Two” can help leaders make better decisions. This is essentially the practice of getting the two people most closely involved in the decision to work together on the decision. Simple, but surprisingly it works.
  8. A manager’s job is to be the tie-breaker. Someone’s gotta do it.
  9. First principles for decision making. There are immutable truths that are the foundation for your company, product, and/or service. Use those to guide the decision.
  10. Geniuses who can’t work with others should be removed immediately from the equation. “Smart jerks” is another expression that I hear a lot.
  11. The emotional value of compensation isn’t something to overlook — it’s signaling for recognition, respect, status and position and some folks really need these things to operate effectively, even if you don’t naturally bend that way. Compensate beyond fair, if you can.
  12. Small talk actually works and is useful. It helps train you, as a leader, to listen to your team. A study in 2003 shows that these mundane and “trivial tasks” are actually successful elements of leadership because they help folks feel more respected, more visible, less anonymous, and more included.
  13. Intrinsic motivations matter. Autonomy, mastery, and purpose should ring a bell and feelings of competence and relatedness as well.
  14. Radical transparency isn’t just a cool thing to do these days — being a great leader is actually about telling folks how you feel and letting folks know that you care.
  15. Being able to say “I don't know” is pretty powerful.
  16. Micromanagement is terrible. Don’t do it. Instead, tell stories, give them examples of what success looks like.
  17. Loyalty is easy when things are working well. Commitment is hard when everyone is losing. You’ll see the difference in your team when things start moving south.
  18. Authenticity is a popular with the kids these days but it actually is pretty darn important. Building a culture where this exists is critical.
  19. The right team can solve any wrong problem, sotospeak. Figure out if you have the right team first and then the problems seem to solve themselves, magically even. Folks who you should hire are “smart, hard working, have integrity, and grit.”
  20. Caring for your people should be a top-priority. Being generous with your time, connections, and resources will be one of your top investments of your time. Giving back is a blessing.

So, there’s that. Thanks Bill.

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