Click on a leader
Danielle Weisberg (right), Co-founder and Co-CEO of theSkimm
“We think of ourselves as first-time founders and that's an important distinction because every day is a hustle. It was a hustle to get off the couch, it was a hustle to fundraise for the first time, and it was a hustle to get people to quit their own jobs and come join us. That's the only way that you take something from an idea and grow it into a company, and it is a work-in-progress every day.”
Rony Abovitz, Founder and CEO of Magic Leap
“When you are doing something neat and you’re doing it with neat people and there is that convergence, something amazing will happen. If you really want to change the world, you have to have that attitude."
Stewart Butterfield, Co-founder of Flickr and Founder and CEO of Slack
"I can tell people a story that they believe in and get behind. So I’m good at the leadership part. But I’ve always said that I’m a terrible manager. I’m not good at giving feedback. People are like horses — they can smell fear. If you have a lot of apprehension going into a difficult conversation, they’ll pick up on that. And that’s going to make them nervous, and then the whole conversation is more difficult. If you go into those conversations with no apprehension of any kind, that just makes people feel at ease. I’ve tried to absorb that lesson. I’m not able to practice it 100 percent of the time, but it’s definitely something I’ve learned."
Dag Kittlaus, Co-founder of Siri and Co-founder and CEO of Viv
"There's stuff going on now that will blow your mind. (...) The problem is these (research) guys are great at solving technical problems. They're not necessarily great at figuring out what the hell to do with it, so they need someone like me to come in and create a vision around what this technology can do."
Brian Halligan (right), Co-founder and CEO of HubSpot
“The way I think about culture is that modern humans have radically changed the way that they work and the way that they live. Companies need to change the way they manage and lead to match the way that modern humans actually work and live.”
Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook
“Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.”
Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors
"When we have to make tough decisions, giving direction and setting the strategies for the products of General Motors, there should be constructive tension. We should have vigorous debates ... At the end of the day, when the decision has to be made, if we don't have complete unanimity, I have no qualms about making it.”
Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos
"Personally I cringe at the word 'leader.' It's more about getting people do what they're passionate about and putting them in the right context or setting. They're the ones doing the hard work."
Yvon Chouinard, Founder and owner of Patagonia
"When you have a lot of independent people working for you, you can't tell them what to do, or you will get a passive-aggressive response. Instead, you have to build a consensus. My job is to communicate why the change is necessary and how it's the right thing for the company. I do that by holding all-company forums. We wire in our Reno, Nevada, warehouse and offices in Europe and Japan. I encourage people to ask questions then and there or to come see me in my office whenever.”
Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon
"If you're not stubborn, you'll give up on experiments too soon. And if you're not flexible, you'll pound your head against the wall and you won't see a different solution to a problem you're trying to solve."
Mark Zuckerberg, Co-Founder, CEO Facebook
“There are people who are really good managers, people who can manage a big organization, and then there are people who are very analytic or focused on strategy. Those two types don't usually tend to be in the same person. I would put myself much more in the latter camp.”
Elon Musk, Co-founder and CEO of Tesla and SpaceX
“People work better when they know what the goal is and why. It is important that people look forward to coming to work in the morning and enjoy working.”
Travis Kalanick, Co-founder and CEO of Uber
"The entrepreneur community, there's a certain kind of founder, they call them a 'lone wolf.' I probably fit in that category."
Steve Jobs the late Co-founder and CEO of Apple
“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”
Is an effective leader visionary or democratic? Maybe both? We believe that the most successful leaders are able to adapt their leadership styles to business situations and they can switch among leadership styles as needed. Different management style is suited for strategic planning process and crisis management. Powerful leaders can also behave differently in each phase of the business cycle. However, there is only so much any person can change. And character traits are closely associated with leadership styles. They determine for a great deal the typical attitudes of any leader.
Looking at popular quotes easily found on the internet we plotted a couple of famous – in the news – leaders. This way an interesting pattern emerged.
We, myself and I
There is the collaborative leader on one hand of the spectrum. On the other hand you have the visionary captain taking all the decisions by him(mostly him) self. That doesn’t mean collaborative leaders can’t be visionary but it tell a lot about how leaders try to reach their goals.
It just feels right vs first principles
Another pattern that emerged was the way decisions are being made. You can take logical thinking and data gathering to an extreme (Elon Musk’s first principles approach) making you data-driven. Or you can have an instinct strong enough to create Steve Job’s famous “reality distortion field’.
Loosely fitting life cycle
Two dimensions lead to four quadrants. And they put interesting companies together. In a start-up phase a founder team often works together closely on a shared dream. They feel they are on to something: Intuitive, WE. If things go well they want to grow and start gathering data to see how that works best. But still nimble enough to be able to make decisions that reflect the entire company culture the decisions are made by a larger group. Data-Driven, WE. Then in order to sustain growth and keep the then ROI hungry investors happy there is often a transition period. Money needs to be made, though decisions need to be taken. A power struggle emerges and a Captain arrises. Taking decisions based on data. Data-driven, I. Then, when a company has made money for years innovators dilemma catches on. This is a situation that requires a captain willing to take a visionairy decision on the future of which she has no data yet. Based on intuition. Intutive, I.
Obviously this is just a way of looking at it and by no means science. But I think it does show that it can help to be conscious about your leadership style. Being aware of what kind of leadership you are portraying can give insight in the phase your company is in.
We are always open to your feedback so if you think we should change something about this map, or have other remarks please let me know.