Collection (7 items)

Winning Hearts and Minds

Leadership isn’t just about being the boss and calling all the shots. Sometimes, it’s about letting go: empowering others to make decisions, perhaps even slipping out of a meeting to avoid tainting discussions. Effective leaders find subtle ways to signal trust and confidence in others, by being persuasive instead of coercive, and valuing inquisitiveness, not just action. This collection will help you understand how effective leaders inspire and embolden their teams and their customers. It starts by winning hearts and minds.

1 of 7

2 minutes

A few months after her failed bid for California governor in 2010, veteran Silicon Valley CEO Meg Whitman found herself on the couch, completely deflated. The team she built for her campaign, the crowds who cheered her on, the 5 million California votes — not to mention the personal fortune she invested — all for naught.

There she was, the graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Business School who went on to head eBay during its most explosive decade of growth, from 30 employees and $4 million in annual revenue to more than 15,000 employees and $8 billion in annual revenue in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Now, just her and Ellen DeGeneres on the TV in the family room of her home.

Her husband said this would not do and urged her to figure out what’s next. It didn’t take long.

Later that day, another tech-industry leader, Marc Andreessen, called to ask Whitman to serve on the board of directors for Hewlett-Packard. Less than a year later, the board invited her to be the company’s next president and CEO.

Once word of that got out, though, Whitman’s return to industry hit some turbulence. At the time, she was widely criticized in the press as being unfit to head a company as big as HP. On the day of her appointment, members of HP’s board apologized for once again subjecting her to intense public scrutiny.

But her time in the cutthroat arena of politics prepared her well. “It was a remarkable experience. And frankly, it made me a better CEO,” she said during a recent talk at Stanford as part of the DFJ Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders series. “I have a much tougher skin than I did before I ran for governor.”

At HP, she stabilized a company that saw the departure of two CEOs in just two years and headed the restructuring of a legacy high-tech giant into two Fortune 100 companies.

She did that by following several tactics that leaders should hone, regardless of context. In turning around the storied HP, Whitman first returned to the company’s foundational values and existing strengths. She also let actions speak louder than words:

During her talk, Whitman described how government and business require different leadership approaches and skills. And yet, her immersion in politics endowed her with more than just thicker skin when she returned to industry. Engagement with social and economic issues led to a deeper understanding of how business and commerce shape global affairs.

As Whitman describes below, leadership in innovation is still very much up for grabs. It will depend on which country can identify the industries with the most potential, and then realign its economy and education system so that it can foster, keep and sustain innovation in those sectors going forward.

2 of 7

24 minutes

Startups may want to downplay the free food, beer and haircuts and start hiring and treating workers like the adults they need to thrive long term, according to acclaimed leadership consultant Patty McCord. In this episode, the former chief talent officer of Netflix speaks bluntly with host Bob Sutton about how backstabbing, passive-aggressive behavior and overall coddling of employees are all bad for businesses — and how actual grown-ups can hear and handle the truth, even when they disagree.

3 of 7

2 minutes

Initially, startups are best led by a founder with a clear and specific vision, and a singular focus on achieving product-market fit, according to Kevin Weil, who worked at Twitter in its early days before joining Instagram. Once the business is established and grows, Weil says the mission should be shared knowledge so decision-making can be distributed and people can work toward a common goal.

4 of 7

3 minutes

Aside from the typical traits associated with strong leaders — like vision, determination and execution — Bob Tinker points out equally important skills that aren’t talked about as often but are essential for any CEO. Among them, according the co-founder of MobileIron, are an ability to develop an acute self-awareness, to balance confidence and vigilance, and to be persuasive to a broad set of stakeholders.

5 of 7

5 minutes

Stanford professor and author Bob Sutton covers a number of hallmarks and strategies of smart, in-tune bosses. While traditional management theory dictates constant monitoring of employees and processes, this may not be the best tactic, says Sutton. His research reports this is particularly true for bosses managing creative teams and employees. In these situations, over-management can backfire, often stifling creativity and innovation.

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5 minutes

Liz Wiseman, author of “Rookie Smarts: Why Learning Beats Knowing in the New Game of Work,” compares opposite types of leaders. She says “diminishers” focus on their own intelligence and abilities, squandering the talent around them. Meanwhile, “multipliers” trust, support and empower others, challenging them to stretch their limits.

7 of 7

26 minutes

In order to understand how friction helps and harms work, Stanford’s Bob Sutton, author of the forthcoming “Asshole Survival Guide,” interviews management expert Michael Dearing, a former senior vice president at eBay who has done corporate strategy for the Walt Disney Co. and now heads Harrison Metal, a VC and education firm that focuses on general management, business leadership and product development. Discover the timeless truths of good management, the rules of engagement to allow for creative tension, and the virtue of velocity for the entrepreneur.