The Idea Dude


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

What lies beneath?

The best leaders are readers of people...that's a quote from John Maxwell's latest newsletter. It strikes a resonant chord here. If you are going to build a great team, you better know each person's strengths and weaknesses, what they like doing, what they are afraid of. When I led teams I spent a lot of money on meals and coffee. It paid off handsomely because it is in that informal context you learn about your people, their dreams, their passion, their fears and what they hate the most about you and your company. Napoleon Bonaparte did the same, eating with troops.

That's probably why I've always said that once a company grows beyond 50 people it is time for me to move on. You can only interact and know so many people well at any given time. The legacy I want to leave is the knowledge that I've made a difference to people's lives and enriched their life experiences. The analogy I've always promoted is that of a mountain better know who is on the other side of the rope and you better know which part of their character you can trust and which part you can't. People hardly fail you intentionally. You will never climb that mountain if you have to keep looking back.

This week's kudos goes to Meebo, a web-based unified instant messaging solution. I saw their first blog post, I think it was September last year. I loved the honesty and enthusiasm. It was 3-4 people with high hopes and a little bit of money. At the time, I admired their courage given that IM was dominated by Microsoft, Yahoo, Google and Skype. Secretly, I hoped they would they claim to have over half a million logins a day. I hope you guys make it. I really do.

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)


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