A New Kind of CEO?

Last week, Twitter’s new CEO Jack Dorsey had a big announcement for his employees in which he appropriately informed them via tweet. Dorsey decided that he would give a third of his stock options to all Twitter employees – that’s approximately one percent of the total issuance with a market value of $197 million.

Jack-Dorsey

This is an unprecedented act of generosity and I believe that this should serve as a valuable lesson for leaders. Why?

  1. Retaining the company’s most valuable asset

Intellectual property, exclusive customer contracts, unique service offering, differentiated market locations are all assets that companies value. However, each of them require employees in order to maintain, enhance and commercialize that value. Dorsey has realized that his workforce is Twitter’s most valuable asset, which is why he gave them the options grant as a retention incentive. An employee’s options grant is usually broken into percentage blocks, with each block vesting annually over a number of years. This is an effective long-term tool to keep his people happy.

  1. Boost the morale of employees

It gives his employees a performance target to help structure they’re daily activities. More importantly, it transforms the employees into company owners. Then employees feel more valued and also gives them a sense of all being apart of the Twitter team if they didn’t already feel it.

  1. Culturally focused team

Dorsey’s leadership also sets a strong tone of conduct across the whole organization. Employees won’t forget this surprising demonstration of generosity towards them. Now there is a Twitter DNA of teamwork, generosity and consideration.

  1. Telling investors that they matter

Shareholders matter, no matter if it is a start-up raising venture capital or a publicly traded company that is accountable to its investors. One of the amazing aspects of Dorsey’s gesture is that his block of options isn’t dilutive to its current shareholders. That means that Dorsey’s stake in the company was already publicly disclose so the amount of his options grant was already considered into the stock purchase decision of existing shareholders that already bought the stock.

Dorsey could have had the company issue a new block of six or seven million options for employees that would have been dilutive to shareholders, but instead he pulled from his own resources. That is a remarkable act of stewardship and leadership – the new visionary CEO. Do you think that other leaders and CEOs will catch on and follow suit?

Feedback: Direct, Specific, Clear

“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” – Bill Gates

Feedback is a really idownloadmportant factor no matter the environment that we are in; it is the coaching along the way that helps us improve from bad to good and good to fantastic.

When I was around 10 years old, I quit playing the piano. The feedback that I got from my highly trained, but young and inexperienced teach was so overwhelming. There was always so much correction, pressure and expectations – it was difficult to process. Six years later, I returned to playing the piano with a more experienced coach. I learned to appreciate the process of learning how to string the notes together – first by measure, then increasing the tempo and last, perfecting the phrasing. Granular feedback had turned me into a confident pianist.

In order to coach others into their full potential just as I was, I believe that there are three simple rules to follow.

Be Direct: People sugarcoat areas that need improvement, but really you need to tell them how it is – that is what is truly valuable. Of course, show sensitivity while delivering the facts. Something that might help you is by asking permission such as, “May I give you an observation that may bother you?” They will automatically convert into learning mode and be ready to hear you. Lastly, as always, present it in a positive framework that is aimed at them improving themselves rather than comparing to a quantity or measurement.

Be Specific: The least effective feedback is when it is generalized. Use a recent instance and talk about the effect that it had on the team or their performance. Provide this kind of feedback privately because a confidential conversation makes hearing these tough truths easier. They will focus on your words instead of worrying about what everyone else is thinking.

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Be Clear: If the feedback is serious enough that they risk losing their position, then say it in a non-threatening way. Give them time frames for improvement, measurable ways to improve and schedule a follow up. So basically, don’t skip to the punch line.

The wonderful thing about being in management is watching others grow. You are not the solo performer; you need the rest of your team there. Yes, giving feedback can be difficult, but it is as vital as deciding whom to hire, to promote and even to let go. Be the leader that keeps confidences, removes obstacles and notices what can be improved. That is the kind of piano coach I had and the one that I aim to be.

4 Steps to Lead Effectively

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” – John C. Maxwell

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The fact of life is that we all have to lead at some point. Some are pushed into authority position whether they like it or not, some are required to lead as their daily duties and some are looking to lead to promote ideals and guide others to values that they feel strongly about. There are so many ways that we need to be leaders and it doesn’t have to be scary, I’ll tell you how to lead a team without becoming the manager that everybody hates.

  1. Set an Example

Think about when someone asks you for directions. You can write step-by-step directions, draw a map, or even provide details such as landmarks. Or you could simply say, “Follow me.”

Value statements and culture decks are not effective, especially not the ‘do as I say, not as I do’ sentiment. These respect and integrity lines don’t mean anything if you turn around and curse a member of your team out.

The point is, show people what you believe in and they will naturally follow.

  1. Be Humble

Think about two scenarios. In the first, a boss makes a mistake and refuses to admit it, blaming someone else. In the second, a boss recognizes the mistake and admits it, learns from it, done. Which boss would you rather work for? Exactly, the second because owning up to mistakes inspires respect. No body is perfect so don’t be afraid to ask your team for help. This will humanize you to your team and create an environment that everybody feels that they can learn from each other.

  1. Praise Sincerely

Authenticity is key – DO NOT just go through motions to check people off of a list. Be specific when telling someone how and why you found their actions to be so beneficial. The overall goal is to instinctively recognize and appreciate efforts of others and to communicate that appreciation consistently. I believe that praise and recognition can be inspiring, so don’t skip this one.

  1. Learn to Listen

No one has ever learned anything while speaking. So, listen to your employees and stay in touch with the reality of your company. You will begin to become aware of new problems much quicker and understand how your people are dealing with them.

Remember, what is important to you is important to them. Your voice carries more weight because it is based on reality.

Being a ‘leader’ is just a title. We all lead, so focus on leading effectively by paying attention to these simple steps. I promise you that you will have results that you are proud of.

 

 

What is going on at Amazon?

This week, The New York Times published an article titled, “Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace – The company is conducting an experiment in how far it can push white-collar workers to get them to achieve its ever-expanding ambitions.” It caused quite a stir, including Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, coming forward to defend his company.

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Let’s begin with some of the most startling anecdotes. There was a woman who had just lost a child in pregnancy – she was put on performance review because she wasn’t giving her all to the company. Emails are sent out at all hours of the night and if you miss an email, you will get a text message a few minutes later asking why you haven’t replied. Daily performance reviews are standard – so employees can both boost and tear down each other anonymously.

Amazon was described as a place for overachievers to go to feel bad about themselves. In a YouTube video aimed at attracting employees to work for Amazing, a senior engineer explains, “You either fit in here or you don’t. There is no middle ground.”

Employment lawyers in Seattle were regularly contacted by Amazon workers claiming unfair treatment – most of the time saying they were pushed out for “not being sufficiently devoted to the company.” However, unfairness isn’t illegal so it is a difficult suit to win. Only 15 percent of employees stayed with Amazon for more than five years. Officials at Amazon say that this is because hiring was so robust.

“Purposeful Darwinism” is what Robin Andrulevich, a former top amazon human resources executive calls it.

Founder, Jeff Bezos says that he doesn’t recognize the company they are describing. “Even if it’s rare or isolated, our tolerance for any such lack of empathy needs to be zero.” He also told employees to contact human relations or himself if any situations like those named have occurred.

Some loyal Amazon customers have even spoken up. “I want the company I’m dealing with to treat the human beings who work there with respect, not force them into a climate of fear. That’s at least, how The New York Times described it, and even if Bezos claims to not recognize the environment, over 100 current and former Amazonians who spoke to The New York Times did.”

Amazon may be focused on creating instant delivery for their customers, but it turns out that their customers don’t want it if it takes these circumstances.