On my continuous journey to being an effective leader I’ve made many mistakes and continually learn from them and the people I meet along the way. I’ve worked with amazing people as well as what Steve Jobs called ‘bozos’. In my current role at Microsoft I’ve given plenty of focus on preventing a ‘bozo explosion’ within my team, Guy Kawasaki wrote a good blog post on this https://guykawasaki.com/how_to_prevent_/
Keeping and only hiring the best people is key to success, make sure the people who surround you are better than you and people you can learn from. If you have one mediocre person, that person attracts other mediocre people and before you know it you have a bozo explosion, a depressingly common occurrence in large teams and organizations…This is top of my list in being an effective leader.
1st. Hire and retain amazing and talented people
While on a sabbatical in the late nineties, I read Stephen R Coveys Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. He emphasizes that you manage ‘things’ and ‘lead’ people. This has resonated with me ever since and is key to my own personal leadership philosophy.
“Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.”
Stephen R. Covey
He has a great article posted here and I recommend reading it: https://leadershipforlife.wordpress.com/2011/08/23/hi/ this thinking is 2nd on my list in being an effective leader
2nd. Leadership is not management
This segues nicely into clarity and vision, often understated and undervalued in teams and organizations. As a leader I’ve realized first-hand how important working with my team to set the direction is. In order to succeed, clarity of this direction has been super important, not just for the team to understand but for the wider org and senior leaders also.
Don’t underestimate the waste and damage that comes from not having a clear vision and direction for your team, I’ve experienced this first hand. Don’t have direction and vision that’s clear from your leadership? Don’t let that stop you from creating your own, just make sure it aligns with what you believe your organization is trying to achieve.
3rd. Clarity of vision and direction is essential
Lastly, have relationships with the people around you. Understand what it’s like to be them and live their lives, put yourself in their shoes. When someone lets you down (we all let others down), don’t assume it’s intentional. When someone lets me down I assume something has gone wrong and they are / have done their best to correct it. In the past I’ve assumed the worst, that people have not turned up to meetings in order to waste my time, taken credit for my work to further themselves or bad mouthed me behind my back to rally others against me for their own gain.
Nowadays I simply assume a person has come up against a road block and so I ask what I can do to help as it must have been serious for them to let me down. This defuses the situation if they were being malicious and if they weren’t I get to learn what it was and help if I can.
4th. Grow and embrace your emotional intelligence (EQ) (watch these TED talks)
I work at the above every day, not just at work but where I can at home with family and friends too. I fail often, picking myself up and moving forward. I no longer beat myself up when I fail – I pause, think about the situation and apologize if I’ve done wrong, then I move on with emphasis on acting differently next time (using the above principles).
Embracing leadership could solve many of your problems (ones you aren’t yet aware of) and you don’t need to have the authority given to you to act like a leader, just take it and people will follow.
As a new season in the year begins and the leaves on the trees are changing colour, so too is the Microsoft chapter in my life.
Together with video games’ most talented problem solvers and quality professionals, I have been part of building and leading a new chapter in the focus of testing games at Microsoft, one that puts customers (our players) first and recognises quality as player value, not bug count. This change also drives quality to be built in during creation and not tested in as is conventional. The journey has begun and the most difficult part (starting) was accomplished. To all the team members, studios and believers I have served alongside: I will forever be grateful and cherish our experiences together and I thank you from the very bottom of my heart.
Also, while choosing to leave Microsoft was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done (especially as Satya Nadella, Microsofts inspiring CEO is focused on all of the areas I too believe in and am passionate about – from customers first to great leadership principles) the incredible positivity that has come from my team, my friends and my family has been amazing. Many opportunities at Xbox are yet to be seized and with the recent promotion of Phil Spencer to EVP I know the quality and experience of products and services at Xbox will continue to amaze and inspire.
I look forward to sharing more soon, until then, I’ll be taking a (quick) break with my family, spending some time in a yurt with my head down on what’s next, pausing and playing in the countryside with my children and amazing wife Mandie.
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn
Recognize the fortunate so that you may choose their company and the unfortunate so that you may avoid them. Misfortune is usually the crime of folly, and among those who suffer from it there is no malady more contagious: Never open your door to the least of misfortunes, for, if you do, many others will follow in its train… Do not die of another’s misery. (Baltasar Gracian, 1601-1658)
The universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it – Marcus Aurelius
We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think – Buddha