Recently I found some mental space to think about what basic, simple principles should guide my work at Volumental. Here I list the principles that I try to remind myself daily and stay true to.
Never be an energy drain
Your output is measured in your team's output x their happiness. What keeps people going is excitement, a sense of purpose and a safe environment.
The fuel for all of this is energy. By energy I mean; the general will to live, to build and to be excited about the future.
As a leader, every interaction — no matter what the context is — with one another should leave them with more energy, never less. Remember that every second of every hour of every day.
Set clear priorities and watch people figure out the rest
Your team is a climbing party attempting summit. A party of well-equipped, experienced climbers is all but wasted if you don't know where the summit is.
That goal should be trivially-measurable, compact enough to fit in a single breath, sufficiently daunting to raise your pulse.
Trivial to measure, simple to say, hard to do. That clarity is the hardest part of being a leader.
If you're not there, try again, fail again, fail better.
Never add complexity
Abstracting away complexity is a manager's raison d'être. Managers that grow complexity within their group and leak it outside are bad managers.
Most people do not think simple enough. Simple is fast, simple is smooth. Simple is easy to learn, to explain, to build and to maintain. Simple can be scary. There's comfort in complex, deceiving with promises of plenitude. The added friction rarely makes the trade-off work.
Simple adds energy, as opposed to complex, that saps energy. Simple becomes obvious once works, stays hidden thereafter. Complex lingers like a suspicious ache, often with the pride of achieving complex.
Simple takes blunt force trauma to implement, for it is often required to scrap it all and start from a simple but working kernel. Complex sneaks its way in, drip by drip.
If you find yourself in a wearisome meeting on an important matter where progress seems slow, chances are you have failed to think simple. Flip the table over and think about the simplest solution and propose just that.
Dreams take us to otherworldly places. Deeply strategising is how companies dream. Great managers allows the room to deeply strategise.
And those who can't even dream, won't dare mighty things.