Just as weight lifters’ bulging biceps make them great at lifting weights but terrible at scratching their own backs, larger companies tend to gain weight disproportionately and trip over themselves. I have come to call it corporate obesity. If you’ve worked at a heritage corporation, you’ve probably witnessed the following phenomena:Continue reading
“This is required reading for founders. Experienced entrepreneurs all know this period Scott refers to as ‘the messy middle’ and a few of us have worked our way out of it, but this is the first time I’ve seen an expert—both as a founder and as an investor—break down in such detail just how to endure, optimize, and make it through.” —Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Initialized Capital and Reddit
“Scott Belsky is a master of generous work worth doing. The Messy Middle will help you see that you have more control than you dare to admit, and the ability to make a difference if you care enough.” —Seth Godin, author of Linchpin
“Having been through the ups and downs of the messy middle many times, it’s critical to understand the challenges ahead. This insightful book empowers you to approach them head-on. Belsky’s powerful toolkit, based on hard earned experiences, is an essential guide to building a compelling product, revolutionizing an organization or growing your leadership abilities.” —Tony Fadell, inventor of the iPod, co-inventor of the iPhone, founder and former CEO of Nest, Principal at Future Shape
“Building a lasting business is 1% idea and 99% resilience. The Messy Middle details the unglamorous but essential lessons every founder needs to learn.” —Jennifer Hyman, Co-Founder & CEO, Rent The Runway
“The Messy Middle is one of my favorite business books of the last decade. It’s humble, smart, vulnerable, and precise. If you do complex work (don’t we all?), this book will show you how to navigate the most difficult part of any endeavor.” —Todd Henry, author of Herding Tigers
“With The Messy Middle, Belsky delivers a brilliant book that goes past dogma and slogans into key tactics and ideas. … Small business teams and evolving start up teams will find The Messy Middle useful for refining every aspect of their game.”— Small Business Trends
Clarity propels an organization. Not occasional clarity but pervasive, twenty-four-hour, in-your-face, take-no-prisoners clarity. Most people never perceive that this is lacking in their organization, but 90 percent of the time it is. Just open a few random emails on your company account, activate your brutal-vision, and read. The muddying messages are rampant. If people were brutally honest in their emails, the time we spend sorting through our in-boxes would surely decrease by half.
My colleagues and I focus on helping a system develop greater self-knowledge in three critical areas. Continue reading
Because of its value, some people have called feedback “the breakfast of champions.” But it isn’t the breakfast; it’s the lunch. Vision is the breakfast. Self-correction is the dinner. Without vision, we have no context for feedback. We’re just responding to what someone else values or wants. We’re living out of the social mirror. We fall into the trap of trying to become all things to all people, meeting everybody’s expectations, and we end up essentially meeting nobody’s, including our own. Continue reading
Organizations have been built on the notion that people must be held accountable and that someone else is in charge of doing that. This kind of thinking, more than anything else, creates and maintains parent–child conversations in the workplace that foster cultures relying on compliance rather than commitment. The idea that we are all responsible for our own commitment is radical.
From the time we learn to speak, we’re told that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. When you become a manager, it’s your job to say it–and your obligation.
Author Kim Scott was an executive at Google and then at Apple, where she worked with a team to develop a class on how to be a good boss. She has earned growing fame in recent years with her vital new approach to effective management, Radical Candor.
Radical Candor is a simple idea: to be a good boss, you have to Care Personally at the same time that you Challenge Directly. When you challenge without caring it’s obnoxious aggression; when you care without challenging it’s ruinous empathy. When you do neither it’s manipulative insincerity.
This simple framework can help you build better relationships at work, and fulfill your three key responsibilities as a leader: creating a culture of feedback (praise and criticism), building a cohesive team, and achieving results you’re all proud of.
Radical Candor offers a guide to those bewildered or exhausted by management, written for bosses and those who manage bosses. Taken from years of the author’s experience, and distilled clearly giving actionable lessons to the reader; it shows managers how to be successful while retaining their humanity, finding meaning in their job, and creating an environment where people both love their work and their colleagues.
( Recommended by Fanny Limare-Wolf) Continue reading
For too long, too many of us have been entranced by heroes. Perhaps it’s our desire to be saved, to not have to do the hard work, to rely on someone else to figure things out. Constantly we are barraged by politicians presenting themselves as heroes, the ones who will fix everything and make our problems go away. It’s a seductive image, an enticing promise. And we keep believing it. Somewhere there’s someone who will make it all better. Somewhere, there’s someone who’s visionary, inspiring, brilliant, trustworthy, and we’ll all happily follow him or her. Somewhere…
Well, it is time for all the heroes to go home, as the poet William Stafford wrote. It is time for us to give up these hopes and expectations that only breed dependency and passivity, and that do not give us solutions to the challenges we face. It is time to stop waiting for someone to save us. It is time to face the truth of our situation—that we’re all in this together, that we all have a voice—and figure out how to mobilize the hearts and minds of everyone in our workplaces and communities.
Leaders who journey from hero to host have seen past the negative dynamics of politics and opposition that hierarchy breeds, they’ve ignored the organizational charts and role descriptions that confine people’s potential. Instead, they’ve become curious. Who’s in this organization or community? What skills and capacities might they offer if they were invited into the work as full contributors? What do they know, what insights do they have that might lead to a solution to this problem?
Leaders‐as‐hosts know that people willingly support those things they’ve played a part in creating—that you can’t expect people to ‘buy‐in’ to plans and projects developed elsewhere. Leaders‐as‐hosts invest in meaningful conversations among people from many parts of the system as the most productive way to engender new insights and possibilities for action. They trust that people are willing to contribute, and that most people yearn to find meaning and possibility in their lives and work. And these leaders know that hosting others is the only way to get complex, intractable problems solved.
Leaders‐as‐hosts don’t just benevolently let go and trust that people will do good work on their own. Leaders have a great many things to attend to, but these are quite different than the work of heroes. Hosting leaders must:
“If you can hire people whose passion intersects with the job, they won’t require any supervision at all. They will manage themselves better than anyone could ever manage them. Their fire comes from within, not from without. Their motivation is internal, not external.”