Looking for leaders in all the wrong places

Tragic. This sums up my opinion on how most companies go about identifying candidates for leadership positions.

It’s not easy to predict who will be a high performer because isolating and evaluating an individual’s contribution for a successful outcomes is notoriously hard. Even if we believe their contribution was significant, there’s plenty of evidence that past performance is a poor predictor for future success.

Like an unsuspecting frog in slowly heating water, we tend to dismiss or downplay the impact of changes that build up over time, until it’s too late. For anyone aiming at mediocracy, keeping with the herd is a reasonable strategy, but when it come to career development — many high achievers still rely on outdated conceptions, and miss the warning signs of a seismic shift.

The irony is that the more technologically advanced your field is, the more likely you are to believe that since you help shape the future, you’re protected from it.

The painful truth

In many respects:

  • A software engineer…

Most of us would agree that transparency is a good thing.
Yet somehow, not only did we get used to its absence at work,
but most people would even find it borderline “inappropriate”.
What is the price we pay, and how can we reclaim it?

How comfortable are you with…

  • Sharing publicly your salary information?
  • Disclosing everything you said in every meeting?
  • Being publicly rated by anybody else in the company?

For most people, this will trigger at least a mild discomfort.

Now think about some typical causes for frustrations at work:

  • Decisions that affect you but made without your…

I got it wrong. For a long time.

I was in love with the dopamine rush you get when you finally come up with a brilliant solution to a tough problem. That moment when you shout “of course!” In an empty room. “How didn’t we think about this earlier?”.

I kept looking for the right formula, the best workshop exercise, the ultimate whiteboard Jedi tricks that would provoke the best ideas.

“Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come”
— Victor Hugo

Apparently Victor Hugo got it wrong as well. …

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

— Mark Twain

It’s easy to fall in love with numbers

Metrics and trends are essential. They give a sense of certainty, solid reliable evidence we know what we’re doing. They are even hypnotically fascinating when properly visualized. How fast are we growing? how much are we making? How many hits/clicks/likes? are we on a hockey stick yet?

This is probably why, especially in bootstrapped conditions, there is an uncontrollable urge to see numbers so fast, that we don’t stop to ask what’s really important here (“just…

Photo by Dominik Scythe on Unsplash

1. You have no personality

Well, of course you have, but what about your product?
Bringing to life a sensible, cookie-cutter, that aims to please everyone (or at least not upset anyone) is a sure way to deliver an underwhelming product.

Grow some balls. Once you decide what your product’s personality and tone should be, go full in. Don’t water it down, and don’t try to please everyone. Some will love it, some won’t care, and some will absolutely hate it. Make peace with it (unless everyone hate it, then you have a problem).

2. You follow the rules

Both Android and iOS provide an extensive guidelines of patterns and…

Yanay Zohar

Rethinking Products & Culture | Founder of isMassive | Founder of lead10x.org | @yanayz

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store