Lemon #41. CEOs should tell it like it is (1st part)

Lemon #41. CEOs should
like it is (1st part)

While reading ‘The hard thing about hard things’ from Ben Horowitz, we learned some facts that caught our attention and would like to share: 

«One of the most important lessons for a founder/CEO is totally unintuitive. My single biggest personal improvement as CEO occurred on the day when I stopped being too positive. 

As a young CEO, I felt the pressure. If we failed to win a customer or slipped a date or shipped a product that wasn’t quite right, it weight heavily on me. I thought that I’d make the problem worse by transferring that burden to my employees. Instead, I thought I should project a positive, sunny demeanor and rally the unburdened troops to victory. I was completely wrong. 

I realized my error during a conversation with my brother in-law, Cartheu. I’d just med a senior executive whom I’ll call Fred and I was  excited to find out if Cartheu knew him. Cartheu said, «Yeah, I know Fred. He comes by about once a quarter to blow a little sunshine up my ass.» At that moment, I knew that I’d been screwing up my company by being too positive. 

In my mind, I was keeping everyone in high spirits by accentuating the positive and ignoring the negative. But my team knew that reality was more nuanced than I was describing it; they still had to listen to me blowing sunshine up their butts at every company meeting. 

If things went horribly wrong, they could walk away, but I could not. I would have realized that it didn’t make sense for me to be the only one to worry about, for example, the product not being quite right – because I wasn’t writing the code that would fix it. 

A much better idea would have been to give the problem to people who could not only fix it, but who would also be personally excited and motivated to do so. Another example: if we lost a big prospect, the whole organization needed to understand why, so that we could together fix the things that were broken in our products, marketing and sales process».

Don’t blow sunshine up anybody’s butts. 

Ben Horowitz @ The hard thing about hard things.

Jorge Moreno

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