“Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.”
– Warren Buffett, billionaire and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway
Learning how to be a great leader is a never ending journey.
Good leaders are constantly learning. They seek out opportunities to enhance their skills and add new ones.
But, not all information is created equal. Some advice is more helpful than others, and some books, articles, and tips are a waste of time.
Curating for You.
We work hard at Lighthouse to share actionable, researched advice to help you. To do this, we are constantly reading other sources for inspiration and lessons.
Today’s post is an experiment in sharing some of the most interesting articles and tweets we’ve read lately. If you found any of it helpful, please share the post; we’ll judge whether to do more posts like this based on the response (reads, shares, comments).
Lighthouse Links: How You Can be a Great Leader Today
Great ideas can come from anywhere. Often, the best advice actually comes from adapting an idea from a totally different situation to your own. It’s why great sports coaches often visit coaches in other sports, as well as leaders in different disciplines for ideas.
Here’s a few of my favorite ideas from what I’ve read lately to help you learn how to be a great leader. Click the titles to open the posts in a new tab and read more.
Nicole Sanchez writes a slightly snarky post highlighting a problem that we’re all too familiar with: bad management is causing your turnover and engagement problems. In her Medium post, she has startups square in her sights, shining a light on why this is such a common problem:
“A lot of the time, “manager” ends up meaning “tenured employee with a lot of outward confidence.” This is a crummy way to pick leaders.
The work of managing and leading people requires substantially different skills than what made folks successful as individual contributors.”
If you’re the leader of a growing department or organization, Sanchez gives you a lot to think about relating to root cause problems to turnover and management’s contributions to the problem. Read the full post here.
- We’ve taken our own deep dive into Why Silicon Valley has so Many Bad Managers here.
Sports coaches are some of the best people to learn how to be a great leader from; if you can get the most out of athletes, then you often also have approaches that will work in the workplace.
I know what you’re thinking. What about the coaches people lionize that are total jerks? Those coaches rarely last, especially today where it’s so easy to share information, and stories can leak from locker rooms. Just look at how Arizona recently fired their football coach.
At Lighthouse, we will only ever focus on the good, caring, successful coaches. There are few up and coming coaches better than the Boston Celtics’ Brad Stevens.
In this awesome profile in the Boston Globe, Stevens reveals his approach that has him getting more out of every player on his team than any other coach in the NBA; his teams are constantly overachieving based on expectations.
Amazingly, the Celtics had the best start in the NBA (15-2) this year despite having 11 out of 15 players on the roster being new. His secret? Something that long-time Lighthouse blog readers should find very familiar:
“I think that you can really coach people, and be even more constructively critical, if you’ve shown that you’re invested in them as a person,”
There’s a number of gems in the post like that quote, so I encourage you to check out the full post here.
- You can also see how leaders across disciplines agree with Stevens on caring about those you lead here.
One of the lessons I’ve learned as I’ve written posts for the Lighthouse blog is the power of stories and example.
There’s something about the human mind that is drawn to them. Not only do they engage us, but they are typically better remembered than even the best, most convincing data in the world.
A great example of this is the story of how the Filet-o-Fish became a staple of the McDonald’s menu.
I don’t want to ruin the story for you, so all I’ll say is you need to go read the awesome story as told by my friend, Andy Cook, CEO of Tettra on Medium here.
- If you love stories, some of our favorites include: Leadership lessons I learned from my past bosses, and 3 leadership stories that can help you be a better manager.
The Golden State Warriors are an amazing story of great leadership. Their head coach, Steve Kerr, was a 5 time NBA champion as a player and now is a 2 time champion as a head coach (we wrote about lessons from his first coaching title here).
How has he had such immediate success despite this being his first time as a head coach?
He’s always learning.
He not only played at the highest levels with some of the greatest players (like Michael Jordan and Tim Duncan), he played for some of the best coaches of all time in Gregg Popovich (5 Championships) and Phil Jackson (11 Championships).
In this article on NBC Sports, they discuss how the Warriors are staying on top in their 4th year of a dynasty-like run.
Beyond the surface lessons in the article, I find their commitment to principles a key insight.
Too often, people apply an idea they hear without fully understanding why it works. This leads to failing to get the same results. A similar issue is then also not fully embracing an approach; if you decide you want to do things a certain way, you need to be consistent about it.
The Warriors deciding to avoid hard practices is not what makes it work. It’s what they do instead to embrace the approach of resting bodies. It’s yoga, it’s extra film, it’s other kinds of drills that are just as important as not scrimmaging.
Are you fully considering the ideas you want to embrace?
- You can learn more ideas how to be a great leader from two of our other favorite coaches on the Lighthouse blog: Bill Walsh here, and John Wooden here.
5) Tweet storm: Cultures around the world change how you need to manage
As trends like remote work grow, the odds you’re managing different cultures only increases. As a leader are you considering what that means for you and your team?
Patrick McKenzie has a great tweetstorm about this exact issue you need to keep in mind as a manager:
Wait To Be Awarded employee says "I'm going to diligently pay my dues and then I will be recognized for it.", Ask manager wonders occasionally "I think they're ready to step up and my door's always open but they seem content where they are. Oh well."
— Patrick McKenzie (@patio11) November 14, 2017
This has non-zero relevance to folks who worry about e.g. promotion tracks of women or integrating international offices, but there are many Wait To Be Awarded cultures in the world. (Middle class Irish Catholic man from Chicago reporting for duty; feels approx normative to me.)
— Patrick McKenzie (@patio11) November 14, 2017
Just because you act a certain way does not mean your team all will act the same. In fact, if you have any diversity in your team whatsoever, there’s a good chance they won’t.
As a leader, it’s your job to get to know your people and these kinds of things. It will help everyone on your team perform at the highest level and avoid surprises where someone turns out to have been upset for a long time without you realizing.
- This is why the questions you ask in 1 on 1s matter: they help you draw out insights from your introverts and those with different cultural backgrounds: Here’s questions great managers ask their teams, and of course you can get even more questions in a free trial of Lighthouse here.
Like many of you, I’m an avid reader. This means I’m always looking for recommendations of excellent books to read.
The CEO and cofounder of Stripe, Patrick Collison, recently tweeted to find out what the world of Twitter thought were the best books they’ve ever read:
So, Sunday evening Twitter: which five books have influenced you the most? (In terms of shaping your worldview.)
— Patrick Collison (@patrickc) November 13, 2017
As you can see from the number in the bottom left, there were over 600 replies of recommendations! No matter what you’re looking for in the next book you read, you’ll see some great recommendations in the full thread you can check out here.
Here were my answers:
– Man's Search for Meaning
– How to Win Friends & Influence People
– The Master Switch
– High Output Management
– Never Split the Difference https://t.co/3nl9fsEUVv
— Jason Evanish (@Evanish) November 13, 2017
And a bit more context on them:
- Man’s Search for Meaning: Learning how to find your purpose and maintain motivation no matter what life throws at you is an essential skill and this book is life changing on this subject.
- How to Win Friends & Influence People: We’re quoted this book many times on the Lighthouse blog, and I personally find it to be essential reading for anyone serious about leading others.
- The Master Switch: It helps to understand the past if you want to understand where society is going in the future. This book is a great chronicle of how technology has influenced the last 100+ years.
- High Output Management: Another oft-quoted book on the Lighthouse blog, this is Andy Grove’s management bible that is also a must read for any manager.
- Never Split the Difference: This book has changed how I negotiate and sell, and have seen the results to prove it works. We also recently wrote about it here.
- You can see some of our favorite books specifically for managers here: Lessons from “First Break all the Rules“, 5 unconventional books for leaders, and Camille Fournier’s book, “A Manager’s Path“
— Women Who Code BOS (@wwcboston) January 4, 2018
Job hunting is tough. Most of time you’re proving to the company they should hire you. However, it’s really important you also determine if they’re a fit for you.
Software engineer Lynne Tye has made an awesome tool that will help you have good questions ready to ask in interviews to make sure the company values the things you do. While some are only relevant to engineers, many are relevant to any role you may be in.
All you have to do is select a few values that are important to you and then it reveals questions you can ask that will cleverly reveal whether the company values those things, too.
If you’re happy in your current job, and hiring engineers, you may want to submit your company to be listed on the site. Even if you’re not hiring engineers, it can be a good exercise to look at the questions and think how your team would answer them if asked.
Try it out for yourself here.
- If you’re hiring soon, avoid these common interview mistakes that can cost you great candidates.
- If you’re interviewing for jobs yourself, then ask these questions to ask an interviewer to determine if you’d have a good manager.