Lighthouse Leadership Weekly #50: High Agency, the Best Book to Plan Your year, and more...

by Jason Evanish, CEO Get Lighthouse, Inc.

What a start to the year. I don't know about you, but it feels like starting on Wednesday, everyone really got back in full swing at work fast.

I hope you got the chance to really recharge, because Q1 is here.

In today's edition, I cover some important nuances in recruiting problem-solvers to your team, share one of our all time favorite books that I have been using regularly for nearly 10 years, and a lot more.

Let’s dive in…

Table of contents:

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🥘 Food for Thought

"The team you build is the company you build, not the plan you make.” And your ability to solve problems is based entirely on how many problem-solvers you have at your company." 

Naval Ravikant, serial entrepreneur, prolific angel investor, and founder of AngelList

I came across this excellent excerpt from an interview of Naval the other day:

The main insight, which I quoted above, is understanding the kinds of people you're hiring.

Seeking out problem solvers is a really smart way to build your team.

If you listen to them, and empower them to fix some of your problems, you'll find that they can make rapid improvements that transform your team. These are the kinds of people that make everyone more productive and effective.

Be realistic about your situation

For those of you working at startups, it's a no-brainer to hire problem solvers. As the above tweet discusses, there are endless problems to solve at a startup, and limited resources. The more people you have that are proactive and effective, the more you'll get done and the higher the likelihood that your company will make it.

Yet, many of you are not at nimble, early stage startups where it's better to "ask for forgiveness, than permission." Some things are beyond your control. Some things can't be changed.

That's why the balanced approach is to understand your situation and recognize the nuance of it.

Here's a few of those nuances:

  1. Make sure your problem solvers can differentiate problems: As the Serenity prayer goes, "Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." The bigger your company, and the more barriers to some problems being fixed, the more important it is that you only bring on problem solvers that can channel their energy effectively to what you can control and fix.
  2. Beware the frustrations of unfixed problems: The downside of hiring problems solvers is they can get *very* frustrated if they see a problem that impacts them and it can't be fixed. As a manager, you have to be able to manage their emotions, and help them understand when they're banging their head against a brick wall, and redirect them elsewhere.
  3. Look for what kinds of problems they like to solve: If the size or type of company you're at may not be the best for problem solvers, then use your interview process to see if there is a match between the kinds of problems they're excited to solve and the kind you need (and they're allowed to) to solve. You can discover this by asking behavioral questions about if they have experience solving the problems you know you'd love to hire someone to work on.

By keeping these aspects in mind, you can bring on the right problem solvers to your team, and avoid bringing on someone who would just be miserable and make more headaches for you.

Beware the Control Freaks

The arch-nemesis of the problem-solver is the control freak. These are the people who want to control every little detail of the work going on around them. They expect people around them to ask for permission before doing anything, and usually pick apart anyone's plan that doesn't look like exactly what they believe should be done.

If you love problem solvers you must avoid control freaks (and protect your team from them) at all costs. They’ll stifle & eventually cause high agency folks to leave as well as hire people that slow the company down with process, permission asking, & politics.

Ironically, some problem solvers actually become exactly these kinds of managers when they're promoted; it turns out, that the same energy that drove them to solve problems is transformed into control freak energy; they assume only *they* can solve problems. As a manager, you need to watch out for this when you promote your problem-solvers, just as much as you'd stand up for your problem solvers against any other control freaks in your company.

The bottom line: Problem solvers can be the best (or worst) thing to happen to your team.

In the right situation, a problem solver can make your life paradise; they solve all your biggest issues, make your team more effective, and stay ahead of issues that would otherwise cause you to have sleepless nights.

However, those same people, brought into the wrong situation for their problem solving skills can end up miserable, frustrated, and very difficult to work with.

Choose wisely how you bring problem solvers onto your team, and be realistic about whether they can have the impact you both want.

📚 Book of the Month on Starting 2024 Strong

Are you hitting your goals? Are you setting big goals for your self each year?

My favorite method for planning and goal setting comes from a book called The 12 Week Year.

The basic idea is that annual goals are a waste; it gives you too much time to procrastinate and not make progress. It also sells short what you can really get done in a year.

The 12 week year book

Enter the 12 Week Year.

The way the 12 Week Year works is that you set goals as if for an entire year, but only give yourself one quarter (12 weeks) to complete them.

Doing this is beneficial for a few reasons:

  • You have to move quickly: You can't procrastinate when the deadline is now in less than 3 months instead of many months away. The 12 Week Year creates obvious urgency so you start from day 1.
  • You get to iterate: Imagine you set a goal, and then find out that those plans aren't going to work out. Wouldn't it be better to find out 3 months into the year, instead of not recognizing that and changing until next year?
  • It forces you to plan: If you're going to try to complete ambitious goals in just 3 months, then you need to plan. The book gives some really helpful, actionable advice for planning from the highest level 5-10 year goals, to the lowest level week to week.

I love this process so much, that I have been doing it since before started Lighthouse.

In fact, just last week we had a call with a friend to go over my 39th 12 Week Year, which means Q2 2024 will be my 10th year of using the process.

If you've been searching for an effective, light weight process for bringing more structure and a goal-oriented process to how you plan your life, then I highly recommend this book.

Pick up your copy of the 12 Week Year here.

📈 Start 2024 with Great Leadership Training

As you start the year, it's important to have a plan for how to grow your managers. They won't get better by accident. And management debt is a real problem; if your managers keep making the same mistakes, it will slowly frustrate and burn out their teams. That crushes productivity, and leads to a lot of drama, problems, and headaches.

That's why I have multiple options to help you, or a group of your managers, grow to become the best leaders possible in 2024:

  1. Grow a Group of Your Managers: When you purchase the Group Edition of one of our programs, I give you bite-size content that even busy managers have time to learn, and also help them build supportive, collaborative relationships with their peers. Learn more about your options here.
  2. Invest in Your Growth: If instead you're looking to invest in your personal growth, then I also have a great option for you. Very shortly, I'll be open up the 3rd and final cohort of our open Lead from the Heart program, so stay tuned for that later this month.

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Jason Evanish

Jason Evanish

As the founder and CEO of Get Lighthouse, Inc, Jason and the Lighthouse team have helped managers grow their leadership skills in dozens of countries around the world. They’ve worked with a variety of companies from non-profits to high growth startups, and government organizations to well known, publicly traded companies. Jason has also been featured in publications including NPR, the Wall Street Journal, and Fast Company.

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