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On Leadership


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My talk on leadership at the 14th PhD FEA Symposium of the University of Ghent

Published in: Business, Technology
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On Leadership

  1. 1. On leadership Thoughts, ideas and observations 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  2. 2. Hi, my name is Filip ex-hacker explorer founder ¢ Securax Hacking Community (1998) ¢ Eiger Nordwand (2006) ¢ Argus Labs (2012) 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  3. 3. 1/ SOME OUTRIGHT LIES 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  4. 4. Everybody needs to be a leader A reason to sustain a 2.4 US$ coaching industry 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  5. 5. You can’t get it from a textbook Bullsh*t (but big $$$) 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  6. 6. Doesn’t come from mimicking others Pathetic (and funny) 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  7. 7. There is no formula to develop it Delusional (and a bit sad) 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  8. 8. Corporations don’t want leaders They want obedient workers, the illusion of leadership comes in a clever disguise 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  9. 9. Everybody can be a leader Sometimes you can’t. Not all of the time. 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  10. 10. Your position defines leadership Biased and antiquated opinion. Rubbish. 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  11. 11. Titles don’t mean anything. Manager Entrepreneur Teacher ≠ Leader Inventor 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  12. 12. Dick and Maurice McDonald had annual revenue of US$ 350k. Ray Kroc bought them out for 2,7M US$ and today has 31,000 stores in 199 countries. 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  13. 13. 2/ IT’S A PERSONAL THING 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  14. 14. Before you lead: prepare to give up •  Be fearless. Your fears are a prison to yourself, limiting your range of action. Being fearless give you more power and freedom. •  Let go of preconceptions. Become a free thinker. Unlearn all corporate B.S. See mystery in everything and everyone. 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  15. 15. Some elements that may help •  Charisma. A charm that can inspire devotion. Become exemplary of character. •  Eloquence. Conveying your message is everything ! •  Intelligence. Communicating sensibly is a plus J •  Transparency. Allow others to look into your life •  Optimism. A positive attitude radiates ! 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  16. 16. “ I honestly believe that if Redfin were stripped absolutely bare for all the world to see, naked and humiliated in the sunlight, more people would do business with us ”, Glenn Kelman (Redfin) 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  17. 17. Passion is everything •  Leadership is personal. Your passion is the most personal and strongest leverage you possess. •  There is no room for an ego. Everything you do is for the greater good. •  If you can’t sacrifice, you can’t lead. Passion is the only thing that will keep you going. 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  18. 18. “ Every time my company is financially challenged, I am the first to give up my paycheck or invest my own savings, even though my family depends on it “, personal story on the early days of Argus Labs (2013) 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  19. 19. You need to like and read people •  Next to passion, empathy is your biggest asset. At the end of the day, even your enemy is a human being. •  A leader without followers is simply an idiot. •  Learn to see the potential in someone, before he does. •  Always (always) treat everyone with the greatest amount of respect and honesty. 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  20. 20. Know that people will attack you •  Their main weapon will be to instill in you doubts about yourself, your worth, your abilities and potential. They will often disguise this as an objective opinion, but invariably it has a political purpose – they want to keep you down. •  Learn to look at the world as populated with allies, enemies and traitors. 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  21. 21. You need to make sense •  Most people don’t understand the world and seek for guidance •  A leader dares to takes a stand and creates clarity, even though he is operating in complete uncertainty •  Develop a strong Reality Distortion Field •  Become outspoken about your vision. 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  22. 22. Andy Hertzfeld first described the Reality Distortion Field as “Steve Jobs’ ability to convince himself and others to believe almost anything with a mix of charm, charisma, bravado, hyperbole, marketing, appeasement and persistence.” 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  23. 23. Become a hero brand * •  Your game defines what you do, and what it means to people •  Make your name stand out, brand yourself as to support your game •  Make sure can be recognized from far away, this is your fame •  Find and claim the right words for your acts 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  24. 24. Game: Revolutionize the world through innovation Name: Steven Paul Jobs became “Steve Jobs” Fame: Turtleneck, Jeans, Sneakers and Glasses and the famous “oh, and one last thing” Claim: Make super user friendly consumer devices 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  25. 25. You never back off •  Everything is an experiment. Execute, learn, adapt and have another go at it •  Your perseverance is the only ticket to success for you and your followers •  Develop a disdain for anything or anybody that restricts your mobility. Get a chip on your shoulder. 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  26. 26. It’s a continuous learning curve 1.  You don’t know what you don’t know. Not aware you could become, or are, a leader. 2.  You know that you need to know. You realize you need to develop your skills. 3.  You know what you don’t know. You identify the gaps you need to work on. 4.  You know, grow and it starts to show. Nearly there… 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  27. 27. 3/ SOME OBSERVATIONS 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  28. 28. Leaders only do change •  Leadership only is required in times of change •  People don’t like change, so this means there will be struggle or confrontation ahead. Prepare to dine in hell. 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  29. 29. Leaders inspire •  Leaders let their followers work with the vision, not with the execution •  Leaders walk their talk WHY   HOW   WHAT   2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  30. 30. Leaders work two shifts •  Internal. To inspire and influence their followers to reach a common goal •  External. To mitigate risks and eradicate problems and opponents. •  Two different approaches. 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  31. 31. Leaders are not managers •  Managers need to maintain a process or system, and ensure things are done right. •  Leaders need to change a process, system, or establish a new process or system, and ensure the right things are done. 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  32. 32. Leaders over vision •  People follow leaders, not a vision (a common misbelief) 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  33. 33. When Maurice Saatchi was ousted by the board from Saatchi & Saatchi, the talent and accounts followed him out the door, and the company’s stock dropped 50% 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  34. 34. Assess yourself •  •  •  •  •  •  •  Character – who you are Relationships – who you know Knowledge – what you know Intuition – what you feel Experience – where you’ve been Past successes – what you’ve done Ability – what you can do Elements a leader has to persuade followers Requires continuous Improvement ! 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  35. 35. 4/ ON LEADERSHIP 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  36. 36. Leadership is about influence •  … not power, or manipulation •  Most corporations still struggle with power plays, and traditional hierarchical lines of command. •  Power is to have people do stuff against their will (army). •  Influence is to empower and have people reach their potential towards a common goal (startup). 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  37. 37. Power plays don’t work. You serve… Dream Reality 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  38. 38. It’s not a democracy •  Leaders listen to what others have to say. This is considered input before taking a decision. •  Listening to everyone ≠ joint-decision making. •  Democracy is a nice notion. But it doesn’t work. It’s slow and a breeding ground for frustration. •  Leaders don’t waste their time on issues that disrupt momentum. 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  39. 39. “ Mandela would later use his father's technique, gathering leaders at his kitchen table or in his driveway and holding discussions. Mandela would always listen first, and speak last.” on Nelson Mandela’s tribal decision making technique. 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  40. 40. It’s charting towards a destination •  Leaders see the whole trip in their minds before they leave the dock. It’s not about steering the ship. •  Draw on past experiences to ensure a safe travel. •  Listen to what others have to say. •  Include faith and fact in the decision. 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  41. 41. “ I have no idea how the landscape looks like, but I keep my eye on the horizon. ”, when discussing Tesla Motors, SolarCity and Space-X with Elon Musk. 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  42. 42. Be strong, trustworthy and consistent •  Character communicates consistency. Everything around a good leader may be changing, even his own strategy, but his character remains the same. •  Assessment: do other people openly share their opinion with you ? If not, you’re not a leader. •  People are forgiving, if you admit to a mistake. 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  43. 43. “… you might think that being consistent with this image will make others respect and trust you, but in fact over time you seem predictable and weak. ”, 50 Cent on consistency As a weakness (external) 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  44. 44. “ He has the power of drawing the hearts of men toward him as a magnet attracts the bit of metal. He merely has to smile at you, and you trust him at once. ”, British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery on Dwigth Eisenhower As a strength (internal) 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  45. 45. Are you a respected leader ? •  •  •  •  •  •  Leadership ability – take things in charge Respect for others – leadership is voluntary Courage – a leader gives hope Success – a leader demonstrate success Loyalty – show loyalty towards others Value added to others – engender respect 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  46. 46. Leaders trust intuition •  Intuition is a culmination of years of experience. You can’t explain, you just “feel it in your gut”. •  Leaders read people and can sense what’s happening in a group, room or with people individually. •  It seems magical, yet is a skill that can be trained. 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  47. 47. Peter Crisp invested US$ 300,000 for 10% equity of Apple in 1979. “ We had nothing to go on, other than knowing that they were honest and smart. “ 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  48. 48. You attract who you are •  Effective leaders are always on the lookout for good people. •  Make a mental list of characteristics you look for in a person. •  Hire fast, fire vast vs. patiently develop potential. •  A positive attitude is a crucial element. 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  49. 49. Touch the hearts, not the mind •  Know who you are and connect with others •  Always be sincere, even if it means admitting a mistake •  Know your audience and speak to what they care about. Focus on them, not yourself. •  Offer direction and hope (hope = future). 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  50. 50. “You know, here in middle Europe we have over 80 million Germans. These people, too, have a right to life. A piece of life pertains to them. For 300 years they have been cheated of this”, Adolf Hitler at Berlin Sportspalast (Jan, 1940) 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  51. 51. Inner circle defines potential •  •  •  •  •  Do they have high influence with others ? Do they bring a complementary gift to the table ? Do they hold a strategic position in the organization ? Do they add value to me and to the organization ? Do they have a positive impact on other members ? 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  52. 52. “ If you can’t feed your team with two large pizza’s, your team is too big “, Jeff Bezos, CEO of 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  53. 53. Only secure leaders empower others •  Barriers you might face as a weak leader: •  Desire for job security – won’t I make myself obsolete ? •  Resistance to change – won’t things change too much ? •  Lack of self-worth – won’t others be better than me ? •  A secure leader is confident and aims to make an organization consisting of your best people that live to their fullest potential 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  54. 54. Only secure leaders empower others * •  Intrapreneurship = empowered employees •  For serial entrepreneurs, this is a detrimental characteristic and process: •  •  •  •  Found company Attract talent Cultivate and empower talent Step down (and restart) 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  55. 55. “ None of the big expensive seat design firms seemed able to solve the design problems posed by our specifications for our Upper Class cabin, but a young designer, Joe Ferry, volunteered (insistently) to give the project a go “, Sir Richard Branson on Virgin inventing the herringbone-configured private sleeper suites 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  56. 56. Monkey see, monkey do •  Remember that people are watching you •  Walk your talk, all the time •  Improve yourself before you improve others : •  •  •  Make a regular character audit. What core values you want to work on ? Ask a trusted colleague to observe you and record inconsistencies. List five things you want others to do better, then compare to yourself. 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  57. 57. Jim Sinegal (Costco) has an office without walls, wears a nametag “Jim” and works together with his workers day-in, day-out. Employee turnover rate is five times less than his competitor Wal-Mart… 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  58. 58. Leaders hate losing •  Leader mindset is as following : •  •  •  •  •  •  Leadership is responsible Losing is unacceptable, a leader is dedicated to winning Creativity is essential Quitting is unthinkable Commitment is unquestionable Victory is inevitable •  Embrace the failing forward principle 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  59. 59. JK Rowling was turned down by more than 10 publishers before securing a book deal, only then to be told to get a part time job as there is no money in childrens’ books 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  60. 60. Leaders apply Pareto everywhere •  Leaders are able to make 30 decisions in 30 minutes •  Leaders don’t do meetings, they talk with people and work together with them •  Focuses on the 20% in order to achieve 80% •  Decision making must be done on little facts, where intuition helps to speed things up 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  61. 61. Momentum is everything •  Leaders develop a sense to create momentum, the place where luck meets preparation. •  Igniting momentum requires shifts in attitudes, behaviors, methods, and results. •  Some famous moments: •  Landing on the moon = space exploration gives hope •  Release of iPhone = reinvents the way we communicate 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  62. 62. Growth or multiplication ? •  To add growth, lead followers. To multiply, lead leaders: •  If you develop yourself, you can experience personal success •  If you develop a team, your organization can experience growth •  If you develop leaders, your organization can achieve explosive growth •  Leading leaders is hard ! Hard to find, hard to gather, hard to keep. Clear away the red tape ! 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  63. 63. “ Jack Dorsey, the only cofounder who still works for the company, is said to rarely speak to fellow cofounder Evan Williams, who actually replaced Dorsey as CEO early on ” on the Twitter leaders 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  64. 64. Seek counsel or advisors •  Refrain from having shrink sessions. •  Having a beer and speaking your mind, and listening to others who have gone before you. •  Select strategic and meaningful relationships. •  Keep the relationship mutually rewarding. When no one gets rewards, stop the relationship. 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  65. 65. Succession is one’s greatest reward •  Define the legacy you want to pass on. This should be already defined in your vision. •  Become the legacy during your leadership period. •  Choose who will carry on your legacy. Choose someone that has more potential than you. •  Ensure you pass the baton… Transfer power ! 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  66. 66. 5/ IN A NUTSHELL 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  67. 67. Make others feel safe to speak up /1 Make decisions /2 Communicate expectations /3 Challenge people to think /4 Be accountable to others /5 Lead by example /6 Measure and reward performance /7 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  68. 68. Provide continuous feedback /8 Properly allocate and deploy talent /9 Ask questions, seek counsel /10 Avoid procrastination /11 Positive energy and attitude /12 Be a great teacher /13 Enjoy your responsibilities /14 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  69. 69. Personnel determine the potential of the organization Relationships determine the morale of the organization Structure determines the size of the organization Vision determines the direction of the organization Leadership determines the success of the organization 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢
  70. 70. 6/ THANKS FOR HAVING ME ! 2013 © Filip Maertens ¢