Great Leadership With Jacob Morgan

Lorenzo Simonelli is the Chairman, President, and CEO of Baker Hughes, a $20 billion energy technology company with 60,000 employees in 120 countries around the world.

Prior to Baker Hughes Lorenzo served as President and CEO of GE Transportation, CFO of the Americas for GE Consumer & Industrial, and General Manager, Product Management for GE Appliances, Lighting, Electrical Distribution, and Motors.

It is a very different experience for leaders today than it was decades ago. With the advent of social media, sites like Glassdoor, Smartphones, etc...everything they do and say is out there for the world to see and they are constantly scrutinized and analyzed. As Lorenzo shares, unlike in the past, the role of a leader now is 24/7. He is aware of the constant feedback and analysis and says he is a humble person and he tries to do the right thing on an ongoing basis. He treats people with respect and leads in a genuine way. And so when people critique him it doesn’t get to him as much, because he is comfortable in his own skin and he knows he is doing his best.

He believes that as long as leaders are leading in a respectful and authentic way and as long as they are driving the company forward, keeping all stakeholders at the forefront, then after that you need to be comfortable and confident in yourself. Don’t take criticism too much to heart.

“I've always felt it was important to have a balance, and I will work hard. And I will always try and do the best thing at the same time. Like all other humans, you've got only so much you can do. And that's what I put into perspective as well. I don't have all the right answers. I don't know everything. But I'll always do the best for the company.”

What it was like working with Jack Welch and Jeff Immelt at GE

Lorenzo worked at GE in various roles for around 20 years and he had the opportunity to work with both Jack Welch and Jeff Immelt. He says working with both of them was a great learning experience and they had a huge influence on who he is as a leader today. He was able to see both of them in action and learned different skills from them.

He shared a story of a time when he was conducting his first project for Jack and he had to give a presentation. At the time Lorenzo was around 20 years old and being that this was his first major interaction with Jack he was very nervous. He walked into the conference room and he was surrounded by Jack and other corporate staff and he began to sweat, he was so uncomfortable.

When Lorenzo started to present Jack could sense his nervousness and immediately he said “Stop, stop.” This startled Lorenzo and he was confused. He had just started presenting, there’s no way he could have screwed up already. But Jack wasn’t upset, he said “With a name like Lorenzo and an English accent, you’ve got to explain your story before you start.” And that was the ice breaker that Lorenzo needed to be able to breath and calm down before continuing with his presentation.

This is something Lorenzo has taken with him as a leader. It’s an important skill to be able to read how people are feeling and to help them get to a place where they can shine.

During the 2008-2009 financial crisis Lorenzo was leading a GE transportation business and because of the tough times he had to call Jeff and tell him that they had lost all of their volume. Lorenzo recalls Jeff being very understanding and telling him take what you can control and do what’s right, at the end of the day that’s all I can ask of you. I can’t ask you to control externalities that you don’t have a bearing on. Jeff was supportive and kind as a leader in a really difficult time, and that’s something that Lorenzo has taken from him.

Leading in tough times
Making difficult decisions as a leader is never pleasant, but as Lorenzo shares, you have to be honest, drive the company forward, and make sure the company is going to be there when things get better.

Lorenzo recalls something a mentor once told him and that is, “The worst thing you can do in a crisis is hide in your own office, because everybody is confused and the leader needs to be out there, and actually giving a direction and giving clarity.” Lorenzo has always approached a crisis as an opportunity to engage in a dialogue and build camaraderie. Your people have to understand the reasons behind the decisions you are making as a leader. You will not always be popular for the decisions you make, but people will trust you and respect you for keeping them informed and involved in the process.

As a leader you also have to be comfortable with managing ambiguity, you can’t look flustered. Lorenzo says, “People don't necessarily expect you to know all the answers. Clearly, the pandemic was something many of us were facing for the first time. And we had to be agile and navigate the pandemic. But if you provide a sense of ease, and a sense of just communication, and comfort, people will come along, and you will solve it as you go along.”

He says the worst thing you can do is get flustered, because people will see that and they won’t trust you to make the right decision. You may not know what to do in a given moment, but you have to stay calm, come up with a rational response, and communicate with employees. Get all the information you can, and then make the best decision possible. You may not always get it right, but you will be making progress and moving forward.

Lorenzo’s evolution as a leader
There was a time in Lorenzo’s career when he admits he was more of a command and control type leader. He thought he could do it all himself and he micromanaged people. But over time his leadership style has changed.

The change has come about because he listened to the feedback coming from employees and peers and really taking it to heart. Listening is such an important skill to have as a leader. In order to truly take feedback and make changes you also have to be vulnerable and self aware. It’s also critical to let people know you appreciate feedback so that they continue to give it in an open and honest way.

Lorenzo’s advice for leaders
Now more than ever it is important for leaders to stand for something and to stand for what the company believes in. As a leader at an energy technology company, Lorenzo believes that Baker Hughes can really help reduce the carbon footprint and provide safe, reliable energy for people around the world. And that is something he speaks up about and something that he takes a stand for. Every decision he makes is based on that belief.
He says, “I'll also say I think leaders need to be a voice for the underrepresented and also for the way in which the globe needs to continue to evolve. And that's why diversity and inclusion is so important. Because if we don't say it as leaders, then how will it evolve? And that's the best decisions we know, are made when you actually have variation and diversity of thought. And that comes through the D&I as well.”

The speed at which things are changing in the world has sped up, and so leaders also need to be agile. You have to be able to move fast and pivot when needed. “We know the end goals, but how you're going to get there can vary day in and day out, and also different roads that you take. And we look at the external world, we look at what's happening, and we pivot accordingly. And so instead of it being one big marathon, it's actually short sprints that get you along that way. And that's the way in which we've been through this journey.”


This episode is sponsored by my friends over at Perceptyx

Perceptyx helps enterprises get a clear picture of their employee experience with a continuous listening and people analytics platform aligned to key business goals. With the industry’s largest portfolio of survey types – including engagement, DE&I, lifecycle, 360 feedback, pulse, and more – now you can see not only what’s going on today, but how to move forward tomorrow with insights and prescriptive actions for every level of the organization.

Given our unique blend of technology, domain expertise, and ‘above and beyond’ customer service, only Perceptyx makes all this possible. It’s why 30% of the Fortune 100 already rely on Perceptyx and why 95% of the organizations stay with us year after year. Learn more or request a personal demo today at


Now more than ever we need to take a step back to define what it means to be a leader and what great leadership looks like. But this isn’t easy to do. In fact, many business leaders struggle with this. You cannot become and build what you don't define. In the PDF you will get a framework you can follow and also see how some of the world’s top CEOs define leadership. Click here to get the PDF.

Get the latest insights on the Future of Work, Leadership and employee experience through my daily newsletter at 

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Direct download: Audio_-_Lorenzo_Simonelli_-_Ready.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:01am PDT

Does your leader have a growth mindset or a fixed mindset?

There are a few ways you can find out.

Leaders who have a fixed mindset place a very high priority on looking smart. They believe people can't change.

If you work for a manager or a leader who doesn't believe in embracing vulnerability or admitting that they don't know something, your boss has a fixed mindset.

On the other hand, if you work for a manager or a leader who believes in getting feedback and encourages learning, experimenting, and curiosity, your boss has a growth mindset.

Imagine being under constant pressure at work every day and feeling that every word that comes out of your mouth has to be correct. That's a horrible kind of culture to be in.

This is why leaders need a growth mindset.

Now more than ever we need to take a step back to define what it means to be a leader and what great leadership looks like. But this isn’t easy to do. In fact, many business leaders struggle with this. You cannot become and build what you don't define. In the PDF you will get a framework you can follow and also see how some of the world’s top CEOs define leadership. Click here to get the PDF.

Get the latest insights on the Future of Work, Leadership, and employee experience. 

Let's connect on social!





Direct download: Why_Leaders_Need_a_Growth_Mindset.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:25am PDT

Mike Capone is the CEO of Qlik, a business intelligence company that provides end-to-end cloud data integration and data analytics solutions for organizations around the world. Mike leads a team of over 2,600 people around the world. 

Mike’s experience as a leader started at the age of 24 when he was working in IT and he says he was totally unprepared for it. At the time he had no training, no experience, and he found it very intimidating at first. But with time, advice, and on the job learning he figured things out. 

He says that his progression from an entry level leader to being the CEO leading over 2,600 people came about because of hard work, a willingness to volunteer for the hard jobs, and the ability to help others be successful. 

The things that made a difference in Mike’s career

Jamie Dimon, the Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, is a leader that Mike really respects and someone that he has watched for a long time. In an interview Jamie shared that when it comes to success, there is no substitute for hard work. And Mike agrees with that completely, people who work hard get rewarded. But while that is a huge part of achieving your goals, there are other important things to focus on.

Mike says you also have to be unafraid to volunteer for tough jobs. In Mike’s own career there was a time when he was working for Oracle Financials when the company was rolling out a global financial system and they had already gone through two separate leaders who had been placed in the roll and then let go. 

One day Mike was selected to be the next leader of the project, and everyone around him told him not to take it--it’s where people’s careers go to die. But Mike saw it as an opportunity to get noticed and advance his career. So he took the job and sure enough it was a huge stepping stone for him. As Mike shares, it is a combination of things that get you to the level of CEO, but if no one notices you and if no one knows who you are, then it doesn’t matter, you won’t get ahead. You have to have people believe that you are a key to their success.

Mike’s leadership style

One thing that is very important to Mike as a leader is listening twice as much as he talks. As a leader it is so important to let other people talk, even if you already know the answer. It’s also important to have diverse opinions and backgrounds around you. 

But it’s equally important to be decisive as a leader. You have to listen, listen, listen, then decide and move on. “You always want to control the future and not let the future control you. But that said, like, that is the biggest failure I've seen of leaders is this kind of paralysis, this inability to decide. And you'd be hard pressed to find somebody who would accuse me of that, they'll accuse me of ready, fire aim sometimes, right. But they'll never accuse me of, you know, not deciding something quickly.”

There are going to be tough decisions that you have to make as a leader, but time is not going to make it go away. Some leaders also struggle with trying to build consensus around a decision, they want to be popular and liked, and while it is normal to want to be liked, you’re not always going to be and that shouldn’t stop you from making a decision. 

“I always tell leaders, look, you have to do the listening and let people know they're heard, then you’ve got to use your best judgment and the data at hand and decide, and then your team has to get behind you. Time for discussing and then time for deciding and time for action.”

And if he makes a bad decision, Mike says he admits it and fixes it fast. He doesn’t dwell on it or let it eat at him. 

What to do if you feel stuck in your job

Most of us have had a moment or moments in our career when we feel like we are stagnant and there is no way to move inside a company. It can be frustrating and disengaging. So what should you do in this situation? 

Mike says before you make a decision, take a look at yourself. How much do you market yourself? How much are you trying to get noticed? Are you working on gaining new skills and improving the ones you have? 

There are a lot of ways you can change your situation. Mike says, “If you're not fulfilled coming to work every single day, you’ve got to do something about that. You can't just complain about it. And I know economically, people sometimes say, well, I need this job. That’s great, like, you need the job, but you know, then skill yourself up. So your life isn't dependent on that particular job and then go find something else. But don't stay in a situation you're not happy in.”

Two things that hold leaders back

There are two main things that Mike says hold leaders back from their full potential. The first one is that leaders tend to think that the thing that got them where they are today is the thing to get them there tomorrow. They think that because they have a playbook that has worked before that they can just keep running the same one. 

There’s a reason why most CEOs don’t last more than 5 years, because after that time they have to reinvent the thing that they invented, and it’s really hard to admit that what you did before isn’t lasting. But the pace of change is fast, and the world is changing so quickly. You can’t keep doing the same thing over and over. 

The other thing that Mike says holds leaders back is thinking their time is more important than anyone else’s. This mindset manifests itself in canceling meetings, showing up late to meetings, being on your phone when someone is talking to you, etc...When you are in a meeting or talking with someone, be present completely. Multitasking doesn’t work, it’s just a productivity killer. If you need to respond to emails or text messages, set aside time for that. 

What sets great leaders apart from good ones

There are a lot of leaders who can get things done through command and control, but the great leaders inspire the people around them. People are jumping in the boat because they want to follow that leader. It’s all about inspiration. 

And this is something you can work on. Find people around you that model great leadership and watch them. Find someone who can mentor you. Practice things like empathy, listening, caring for others every single day. Catch people doing good things and let them know with an email, a call or a letter. It takes hard work and practice, but it’s worth it in the long run and it will ensure your success as a leader. 

Now more than ever we need to take a step back to define what it means to be a leader and what great leadership looks like. But this isn’t easy to do. In fact, many business leaders struggle with this. You cannot become and build what you don't define. In the PDF you will get a framework you can follow and also see how some of the world’s top CEOs define leadership. Click here to get the PDF.

Get the latest insights on Future of Work, Leadership and employee experience. 

Let's connect on social!





Direct download: Audio_-_Mike_Capone_-_Ready.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:01am PDT

There used to be a time where graduating from school was enough for you to be successful in life and in work.

And when you worked for a company, it too, would teach you everything you needed to know.

But today, that’s no longer the case.

Today, you can't rely on educational institutions and companies to teach you everything you need to know to be successful.

You need to be more accountable over your personal and professional development.

You need to learn how to learn.

Especially in this rapidly changing world of work, you’ll likely need to reinvent yourself multiple times during the course of your career.

What do you do to keep learning?

Now more than ever we need to take a step back to define what it means to be a leader and what great leadership looks like. But this isn’t easy to do. In fact, many business leaders struggle with this. You cannot become and build what you don't define. In the PDF you will get a framework you can follow and also see how some of the world’s top CEOs define leadership. Click here to get the PDF.

Get the latest insights on the Future of Work, Leadership, and employee experience. 

Let's connect on social!





Direct download: Learn_how_to_Learn.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:28am PDT

Martin Moore is the author of the upcoming book, No Bullsh!t Leadership, and the host of the podcast with the same name which has been downloaded more than 1.4 million times and has listeners in over 70 countries. He is also the former CEO of CS Energy and he currently runs Your CEO Mentor with his daughter, Emma.

Martin wrote his book because there are so many books out on the market that teach desirable attributes that leaders should have, but he didn’t find anything out there that shows leaders how to actually implement these ideas. He wanted to create a practical guide that would help leaders figure out how to be more transparent, how to be expert communicators, how to deal with conflict, etc…

As Martin has witnessed personally there are a lot of leaders out there who attend training programs and they come back motivated and inspired by all of the things they have learned, but when they get back to work nothing has actually changed. So they think they are doing better because of the new knowledge they have, but actually they don’t know how to carry it out so it doesn’t help anyone.

Business acumen vs leadership skills
One thing Martin discusses in his book is the difference between business acumen and leadership skills. A lot of leaders aren’t good in both of these areas, they are good at one or the other. Business acumen is about knowing what to do in the context of business--so this includes understanding strategy, being a good negotiator, knowing about finance, economics, marketing, operations, etc…

A lot of times people who have business acumen get promoted to leadership roles, and they are very smart people, but they don’t have the leadership skills needed to be effective. People who only have business acumen can be absolutely terrible leaders.

Leadership skills include being able to deal with conflict, being able to motivate and inspire people, being an excellent communicator, being able to clearly share the vision of the company, etc…

Ideally people in leadership roles have both business acumen and leadership skills, however if forced to choose between the two Martin says it’s better to have the leadership skills and surround yourself with people who have the business acumen then it would be for a leader to have business acumen alone.

Martin says, “A leader’s job is to actually lift the people, to understand them, to get the most out of them, to achieve the results they have to achieve for the organization. And for me, the number one mandate for a leader is to deliver value, period. That's it. Now, before your listeners rail against the fact that I am a heartless capitalist bastard, value comes in many different forms, right? Value can come as much from providing a safer environment for our people, as it can from generating financial value. Someone who's running a surgical practice value might come from better postoperative outcomes for patients. So value comes in many different forms. It's just a matter of understanding what form that is for you.”

The leadership problem
When it comes to promoting people, the transition between individual contributor and being a leader is something we are not paying enough attention to, Martin says. Just because someone is great in a certain role does not mean they will automatically be a great leader. We need more training and mentoring for people going into their first leadership role.

And because a lot of people in leadership positions today have not had the proper training, a lot of times the people just now moving into these roles don’t have any real role models to look up to.

“You look up the line, and you look sideways, and you can't see too many people where you go, Oh, I get it, I see what leadership is, I want to be more like that person. And so you develop all the bad habits right at the start, that you shouldn't. And of course, every time you get promoted above that, it becomes more difficult. Just the simple fact that you have to let go of the details more and more and more, the higher up you go in an organization. Many people never master that. That's why the workloads are 100-120 hours a week.”

So why do we still have a leadership problem when there are so many books, podcasts, courses, etc...on the topic of great leadership? Martin says a lot of it comes down to the fact that a lot of people don’t want to put in the work of leadership. A lot of the things that you need to be a great leader go against the grain and against the programming that’s in our DNA.

For example, a lot of people have a hard time stepping into conflict situations and finding a solution. Most of us tend to avoid conflict if we can. But as a leader you are going to have to deal with conflict, it’s a huge part of the role. So you have to learn to keep practicing that skill until it becomes more comfortable.

“It's a lot easier to develop bad habits than it is to develop good habits. And leadership, to a large extent, is about pushing yourself to do the things that help you to develop those good habits.”

The seven principles needed to be an exceptional leader
In his book, Martin lays out the seven principles that all leaders need to focus on to improve and be an exceptional leader. They are:

  • Deliver value--You have to understand what value means to you and to your organization. Once you’ve done that you have to stop everything else. You should be picking out the top 2-4 things that drive value for your organization and absolutely nail those things. It’s all about real focus and simplicity.
  • Handle conflict--Conflict is a part of almost everything you do as a leader, so you have to get comfortable with it. You have to be able to stay rational and composed when you are in a conflict situation. And it’s always about respect before popularity. If you’re trying to be popular, it’s not going to end well because there will always be people who don’t like you.
  • Build resilience--Being able to function as a strong leader under severe circumstances is critical. How do you handle pressure? You have to be able to function calmly, rationally when in a crisis. You can’t blame other people and you can’t avoid the problems.
  • Work at level--This is a common problem throughout organizations. You are paid to do a certain job and that is what you have to focus on. Don’t do other people’s work for them. If someone isn’t doing their job as the leader you can’t just jump in and do it for them. First of all it’s robbing that person of the opportunity to improve, but you are also wasting time that you should be spending on your own work. That’s why a lot of leaders end up working 80+ hour weeks. It’s because they are working on the wrong things.
  • Master ambiguity--As a CEO pretty much everything you deal with is in shades of gray, it’s not black and white. But you have to be able to translate from extreme uncertainty at the top to extreme clarity at the bottom. Your people have to understand what is required of them, how they add value to the business, how they fit into the mission of the company, etc...
  • Make great decisions--A great decision will be timely, you can’t act slowly. A decision that is 80% right today is infinitely better than a decision that is 90% right next month. Most of the time we hesitate on decisions because we are afraid to get it wrong. You have to know who to consult,how long to consult, you need a strong line of accountability to make sure all available inputs are there, etc..
  • Drive accountability--Having someone who is singularly accountable for delivering something is critical. Single point accountability has a completely different energy to it then when things are shifting around multiple people and teams. But to really have accountability you have to empower people correctly. Accountability without empowerment is just cruel.

Now more than ever we need to take a step back to define what it means to be a leader and what great leadership looks like. But this isn’t easy to do. In fact, many business leaders struggle with this. You cannot become and build what you don't define. In the PDF you will get a framework you can follow and also see how some of the world’s top CEOs define leadership. Click here to get the PDF.

Get the latest insights on Future of Work, Leadership and employee experience. 

Let's connect on social!





Direct download: Audio_-_Martin_Moore_-_Ready.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:01am PDT

Business is very much like the game of chess. We need to prepare for a lot of different scenarios.

We do this in our personal lives all the time.

When we think about buying a house or having a kid, we think through everything--what's going to happen to the property value? What should my child study when they grow up? I wonder who they're going to marry? We like to think about different scenarios.

But for some reason in business, we don't think about different scenarios, we only think about one scenario.

We need to do a better job of thinking of multiple business scenarios and preparing for all of them.

(This is a clip of my conversation with Vicente Fox, former president of Mexico)

Now more than ever we need to take a step back to define what it means to be a leader and what great leadership looks like. But this isn’t easy to do. In fact, many business leaders struggle with this. You cannot become and build what you don't define. In the PDF you will get a framework you can follow and also see how some of the world’s top CEOs define leadership. Click here to get the PDF.

Get the latest insights on the Future of Work, Leadership, and employee experience. 

Let's connect on social!






Direct download: How_Should_We_Prepare_for_the_Future_of_Work.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 6:44am PDT

Oisin Hanrahan is the CEO of Angi, the parent company of Angie’s List, HomeAdvisor, and Handy. He is actually the co-founder and former CEO of Handy before it was acquired by Angi, and now he leads the $8 billion company with around 5,000 employees.

When he was just 19 years old he founded a real estate company in Budapest and ran that for 6 years. Later on he came to the US and attended Harvard Business School, but he and his Handy co-founder both dropped out to launch the business in 2012.

Oisin truly enjoys the CEO role. As he shares, “I relish the opportunity to set the culture, to set the values, to really think about how we're recruiting people, how we're rewarding them, how we're recognizing them. And I think that that's something that I really enjoy, you know, it's something that I really like to get into.”

And he wants everyone on his team to love their job as much as he loves his. Oisin has a bi-weekly meeting with new team members and during the meeting he sits down with them and he talks about the mission of the company and gives some updates as to what’s going on, but in the meeting he also makes it a point to ask everyone a question--do you like what you’re doing?

Oisin himself answers the question, to lead by example, and he is open and transparent with his team. And he shares with them that of course, not every minute of every day is going to be perfect or make you smile, but the important thing is that the vast majority of your time you are doing something that you enjoy and that you look forward to. Oisin truly believes that one of the biggest responsibilities of the CEO role is to create an organization and a place to work where people are excited to come in and do their job. It’s so important to find the right people for the right roles so that everyone is in the best position to truly love their job.

Oisin’s view of the overall state of employee engagement
Of course it is important for people to want to come to work and to get joy from what they do, but the truth is there are a lot of employees around the world who are unhappy with work, they don’t feel engaged, they dread going into the office.

When asked his opinion on the overall state of employee engagement, Oisin shared three areas where organizations tend to fall short and how focusing on these three areas can drastically improve employee engagement.

First of all organizations have to be mission driven. Employees today want to know that the work they are doing is meaningful, and it’s hard for organizations that are not mission driven to be successful in the current recruiting environment. People have to believe that they are coming in every day and doing something broadly good--whether it’s something that is helping the environment or something that is helping people in impoverished areas around the world or something that is helping their own community thrive--they want to know the meaning behind what they are doing.

The second area that organizations tend to fail at is recognizing, rewarding, and respecting people. Your people want to receive credit and praise for the great work they are doing. They want to feel that they are adequately paid for their role and that they are able to provide for their family. They want to know they are respected, that they are seen, and that they are not just a number.

And third, employees want to know they are surrounded by a great group of coworkers that they enjoy working with and who they get along with well. And this will be different for every person. Some individuals want to be pushed hard, they have incredible ambitions that they want to achieve, they don’t want to settle for average. These types of people enjoy being surrounded by coworkers who will challenge them every single day. They want to be around people who are striving for the best at all times and who will be a bit competitive. While other individuals want a less challenging atmosphere and a place where people get along well and work harmoniously with each other.

It’s important for leaders inside of organizations to look at all three of these areas separately and see what areas they are failing in and what areas they are excelling in. All three areas matter, and you have to figure out the best way to address each one if you want to attract and retain the best people and keep them engaged.

What should you do if you don’t like your job?
For individuals who just aren’t fulfilled at work and who feel like they hate their job, Oisin has advice. Before you turn in your resignation, think about the reason why you want to quit your job. Is it because the mission of the company doesn’t line up with your beliefs? Do you feel like the organization as a whole treats you and all other employees as just a number? If it is something that you don’t have control over and something that is a company wide issue, then yes it’s probably best to walk away.

But if it is because you are not being recognized or you aren’t being paid well, or you don’t like the people you are working with, take a step back and ask yourself if the issue is company wide or is it something that is only an issue within your immediate team. Is your immediate boss not doing a good job as a leader or are all the leaders from the top down acting in the same way? If it is something within your team it may be best to talk with someone within the company to see if you can move to another team. Or maybe your boss’s boss can address the issues with them directly to see if they can change.

Oisin had a situation like this within his company fairly recently. An employee came to Oisin and said he wanted to leave. He was upset and basically told Oisin “this place sucks, I hate everything, I just want to go”. Oisin could have just let the employee go on his way, assuming he really didn’t like the work, and just moved on. But he decided to dig deeper to figure out where the real issue stemmed from.

After a few conversations with the employee, and allowing the employee to take some time to take a walk and get a breath, he found out the truth. The employee was actually happy with the company as a whole, he believed in the mission, he was happy with his pay, and he was happy with the overall culture. The problem was that the culture within his smaller team was not good and his manager was not doing a great job leading his team. After learning this Oisin had some tough conversations with the manager and the manager was able to adjust the way he led his team. In the end both the manager and this employee are both still at the company a year and a half later and they are both happy.

A situation that could have ended with the employee leaving angrily, a manager leading a team in-effectively, and potentially other fed up people leaving, ended up having a happy result because Oisin took the time to dig deep and find out the root of the problem.

How Oisin learned to be a leader
Oisin became a leader at a very young age. He started his first company at the age of 19 and even now in his second CEO role he is only 37. So how did he learn to be a great leader? He says it was a combination of learning from great people around him and trial and error. Learning through trial and error, Oisin shares, is expensive, but it’s also very effective. When you try something and fail, you don’t soon forget the experience and what you learned from it. He has also learned from coaches at times throughout his career.

There is no substitute for what you learn in the hard moments, the difficult decisions, and the things that take you by surprise. When something bad happens you see the pattern recognition and the next time a similar situation comes up you see the signs and diffuse the situation before it becomes a problem. So while an MBA is great, learning from the people around you is important, and leaning on coaches at times can be beneficial, there is nothing like real world experience and trial by fire.

How to know if you should work with a coach
Would all leaders benefit from hiring a coach to help them with their leadership approach? Oisin says it can be extremely beneficial, but there are a few questions to ask yourself before you hire someone.

  1. Are you coachable?-- Some leaders are stuck in their ways and aren’t ready to give up the way they do things. If that is you, a coach isn’t worth it. You have to be willing to make changes.
  2. Can you find someone you trust enough?-- When hiring a coach it is important to find someone that you’ve got good chemistry with, someone who you trust to tell you the truth, and someone that knows what they are doing.
  3. Are you willing to do the work?--It’s one thing to have someone come alongside you and tell you what you can work on, but if you’re not willing to actually do the work, it’s pointless. If you hire a tennis coach to teach you how to play but you only practice once every three months, you’re not going to get better.

Now more than ever we need to take a step back to define what it means to be a leader and what great leadership looks like. But this isn’t easy to do. In fact, many business leaders struggle with this. You cannot become and build what you don't define. In the PDF you will get a framework you can follow and also see how some of the world’s top CEOs define leadership. Click here to get the PDF.

Get the latest insights on Future of Work, Leadership and employee experience. 

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Direct download: Audio_-_Oisin_Hanrahan_-_Ready.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:01am PDT

Great leaders are amazing communicators.

But with all the technology out there, how do you know what platform to use for each message, and how to effectively use that medium?

Here are a series of questions to think about when you are trying to decide how to communicate effectively.

1-What is the message you are trying to convey?
Consider what you want other people to take away and how they should feel after receiving your message.

2-Who is receiving the message?
Communicating with one person is different than communicating with an entire team, just like talking to new employees is different than talking to employees who have been at the company for years.

3-Do you need feedback?
If you want some kind of feedback, a personal meeting might be your way to go. Urgent concerns or clarifications might require speaking up in a meeting and asking your question.

4-What is the culture of your audience?
Different tools, technologies, or customs that work in your part of the world might not work somewhere else. Understand your audience and be empathetic.

Ask yourself these questions to help guide you and make sure that you're using the right medium effectively.


Now more than ever we need to take a step back to define what it means to be a leader and what great leadership looks like. But this isn’t easy to do. In fact, many business leaders struggle with this. You cannot become and build what you don't define. In the PDF you will get a framework you can follow and also see how some of the world’s top CEOs define leadership. Click here to get the PDF.

Get the latest insights on Future of Work, Leadership and employee experience. 

Let's connect on social!





Direct download: How_to_Excel_at_Multiple_Communication_Mediums_MP3.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:01am PDT

Erin Meyer is the co-author of No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention, which she co-authored with Reed Hastings, the founder and CEO of Netflix. She is also the author of The Culture Map and a professor at INSEAD.

For the book, No Rules Rules, Erin spent a lot of time observing the corporate culture inside of Netflix, she interviewed employees, and got first hand stories of how the company values started from Reed himself. Netflix definitely has a unique culture and an interesting way to give employees freedom. While not every company can use their method of autonomy, there are lessons we can all learn from how they operate.

What led Erin to write No Rules Rules
Erin’s first book, The Culture Map, came out in 2014 and it dove into the topic of how people of different backgrounds and cultures can work together harmoniously and effectively. The book really took off over the next few years and in 2016 Erin received an email from a fellow Peace Corps volunteer who was interested in learning more about her book and how to implement the method in his own company. That person was Reed Hastings, the co-founder and co-CEO at Netflix.

So Erin went in to help Netflix get ready for their international expansion and while she was there she became fascinated with the company’s culture because it was so strange and unique.

“I conducted a big research project, I interviewed about 200 employees at Netflix, and I spent a lot of time with Reed himself, trying to understand what it was about this organizational culture that was breeding so much innovation and flexibility in the company. And then what it was that other business leaders around the world or even just team leaders could learn from this company about how to be more innovative and flexible themselves. And that's what we wrote the book [No Rules Rules] about.”

Why the culture at Netflix is so different
When asked what her first impressions were of the Netflix culture when she first started, Erin admits she was a bit “startled” by it and there were some things that initially concerned her. One example of something that concerned her was one of the slides in the Netflix culture deck which said, “adequate performance gets a generous severance”.

Erin says, “It concerned me because at INSEAD where I teach, there had been, there was so much talk, and still today, of course, about the idea of focusing exclusively on psychological safety in a workplace. I just didn't understand how an organization today could be running around, not make your employees feel safe, but tell your employees if they're not excellent, they're out.”

But even though it initially concerned Erin, it also was intriguing and a bit refreshing to see a company be so blunt about what it was going to be like to work there. So many companies tell potential new hires wonderful stories about what it’s like to work at the company, things they think people want to hear. It’s a great work environment, you’ll love everyone you work with, the work is exciting and engaging, and you won’t ever get burned out. That’s what they’ll say when the person is interviewing for the job, but then once they start they find out that people are backstabbing each other, it’s a toxic work environment, they are expected to work 60+ hours a week, and they are doing boring, monotonous tasks.

To see a company really be blunt and open about what the culture is actually like is extremely rare. So even though the wording may sound harsh, anyone who applies for Netflix knows up front it’s going to be hard work and you will have to bring your best self every day, and that may not be for everyone.

“I was so tired, just so sick of looking at corporate cultures or people who worked at companies who said what their corporate cultures were and then say, Oh, it's about integrity and respect and excellence. You know, there's nothing wrong with saying that your organization values respect, it's just that there's no good credible option to respect right? No company would run around saying they value disrespect, or that they value corruption. And I think that was actually one of my really overarching learnings to this research, was that if you really want to articulate a corporate culture that means something, that takes a root and impacts the way your employees are behaving, that you really want to avoid speaking in absolute positives, like integrity or respect, that have no good opposite option. And instead, focus on the tensions or the dilemmas that your employees are facing on a day to day basis.”

We are a team, not a family
Another way Netflix goes against the grain is in the methodology behind their corporate culture. Their mindset is, we are a team, not a family. And we’re not just a regular team, we are an Olympic team. We work together, we have cohesion and teamwork, but there’s no job security. When you get hired for a certain position you are there for as long as you are the best person for that job, but when you are no longer the best person for the job you will be replaced by someone else who is.

As Erin shares, in the Industrial Era most of the time employment was for life, so you really were a family. But now, with the increasing pace of change and uncertainties that is no longer the case, we can’t have teams where we can’t easily move people on and off.

This may seem harsh, and it’s definitely not for everyone, but employees who work for Netflix opt into that work environment. They know up front what it will be like and what is expected of them. And if they accept the job they know they will get paid well, they will get to work on some amazing projects, they will have exceptional co-workers, etc…

How Reed came up with the Netflix culture foundation
There are three main pillars that make up the Netflix culture and allow the leaders there to give employees freedom. And these three things came from the experience Reed had at the first company he opened, Pure Software.

Because Pure Software was a small entrepreneurial startup they operated without formal processes and policies. Everyone was expected to use their best judgement and make good decisions for the company, which worked when they first started with a small team. People enjoyed working there, they had freedom, there was a lot of creativity and innovation. But then the company began to grow quite quickly.

And as the company grew--from a handful of people to 1,000--people started to do stupid things and took advantage of the freedom they were given. There was no policy against having dogs at work, so one woman started bringing her dog in every day and he would chew through the carpets. Another employee who had to travel for work decided because there wasn’t a policy about travel he would start flying first class all the time.

Because this was still a fairly new company, they didn’t have a lot of extra money, so these things people kept doing really hurt the company and frustrated Reed. So he sat down with HR and wrote an employee handbook to address all these issues. But as they implemented these rules and policies something else happened--the creative people started leaving and innovation slowed down. Erin says it got so bad Reed had to sell the company.

So when Reed opened up Netflix he went in with two guiding principles--employee freedom breeds innovation and process kills organizational flexibility. But he was also worried that if he didn’t have some policies in place the organization would descend into chaos. So he had to figure out how to give freedom without processes and policies.

The three pillars of Netflix culture
As Reed was figuring out what to do with the culture at Netflix he realized that in most organizations most of the procedures and policies are put into place to deal with medium to poor employees. So if you could get a culture that was made up of only top employees then you could give them a lot more freedom. And then you also have a culture with a lot of candid feedback so that employees could feel secure speaking up if and when someone did take advantage of the freedom.

So Reed came up with three pillars that are still used inside of Netflix to create a culture of freedom, creativity, and innovation. They are:

  1. Talent Density--In order to give freedom without limits and policies you need a high performing team and you can’t let middle performers hang around. Leaders perform regular “keeper test” exercises with employees. If that employee came to you today and said they were leaving, how hard would you fight to keep them? If you wouldn’t fight or if you would feel a bit relieved, then they aren’t the right person for the role.
  2. Candor--The leaders inside Netflix encourage a lot of candid feedback. The key is having some guidelines to the feedback and Erin shared the four A’s--Aim to assist, it has to be actionable, show appreciation, accept or decline. Everyone provides feedback--employees to leaders, leaders to employees, and employees to coworkers.
  3. Freedom--Once you have talent density and candor, then you are in a position to give freedom. If you want to go on vacation--go, if you need to make a purchase--do it, if you need to make a decision--make it. You are expected to act like an adult and act in the best interest of the company. Instead of using a hierarchical pyramid, Netflix uses a decision making tree with the leaders at the bottom down in the dirt, watering the roots of the company.

Now more than ever we need to take a step back to define what it means to be a leader and what great leadership looks like. But this isn’t easy to do. In fact, many business leaders struggle with this. You cannot become and build what you don't define. In the PDF you will get a framework you can follow and also see how some of the world’s top CEOs define leadership. Click here to get the PDF.

Get the latest insights on Future of Work, Leadership and employee experience. 

Let's connect on social!






Direct download: Audio_-_Erin_Meyer_-_Ready.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:01am PDT