Hidden Lessons in Leadership #11

Dan Rosensweig, in a recent New York Times interview with Adam Bryant, says he is influenced by entrepreneurs—company founders like Jerry Yang and David Filo of Yahoo—he has worked with who developed companies with cultures reflective of “energy, enthusiasm and unbridled passion for what’s possible.”  As Dan explains, “founders simply ask what needs to be done and what’s the best way to do it.”

To this end Dan, president and C.E.O. of Chegg, tells of the importance of communication in his approach to leadership.  Hiring the best people is not enough. You must also provide them with the space to exercise their capabilities.  A large part of this is setting the direction that comes from communicating the strategic intent of the organization.  Dan asserts “you have to really open people’s eyes to the bigger possibilities, so they think differently.”  Just as importantly as communicating the strategic intent, you must also tell the story in a way that enables people to see the important contribution they can make.  As Dan says, “I try very hard to be descriptive about how we want to define success and not necessarily prescriptive on telling them exactly how we want to do it—because, frankly, many of them are a lot smarter than me at what they do.”

Communication is not just about the words that are said, it is also about depth and focus of attention of the one communicating.  That is, words are just the surface level part of communicating, leadership requires far more. It requires engaging with and listen to people—being fully present.  As Dan explained, “I think the way to get employees all in is to listen to them.” For effective leadership superficiality won’t suffice; it requires genuine caring.

Communicate the strategic intent and then prepare to listen.  Listening is critical because it communicates trust, which is the antecedent to cooperative and collaborative efforts.

2 thoughts on “Hidden Lessons in Leadership #11

  1. To me leadership is beyond that, some Lessons form History

    Go back to one of your WW2 admirals in the Pacific with his flat top shot away from underneath him swinging on a bosuns bouy being picked up by a destroyer or Richard Winters of band of brothers fame leading a company across WW11 Europe or Jack Kenedy swimming accross a shark / Jap infested channel some where in the soth Pacific

    Speilberg never did your mising or lost leaders justice, their story is told on every town hall wall across France, Holand and Belgium and into Germany and accross the Pacific Islands. Many and perhaps your best were lost in Vietnam. In Europe I have stopped and looked and read.

    Or those black American fliers who in WW11 no body would let fly but in the end every flight leader insisting on having.them as fighter escort.

    Perhaps it is time some younger Americans went and looked.

    In the UK we had Winston Churchhill, we were finsihed as nation when the American Embassodor to the Court of St James gave us only days or weeks before the UK capitulaed. Who was it who persuaded civillains in river launches and small fishing boats to go and pick the remants of our forces off the beaches of Dunkirk. Who sat in a fighter control room nearly 70 years ago to a few weeks. and was told every damm plane that can possibly fly is up and there are no reserves what so ever.

    Great Leaders tend to come out of crisiis rather than planning your US President is taking a lot of mid term flak at the moment., to me he is a great Leader, he is teaching a gentle lesson to a few folk who really ought to swinging from the yard arm or facing a US military court. I remember the day of Ronald Reagan became President from that day forward I have never heard any one say sorry for being a US citizen or passport holder.

    Am I naive no, I was perhaps indoctriated a little by John Wayne and John Boy Walton. or even James Stewart who did fly those missions.

    You have potential real leaders, what they are made of will never be properly articulated or devleoped at some management School. It is about something else, it is about charactor and about things that are not easily written about by even the best writers.

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