This article is based on an episode of Silicon Valley — Story of a Silicon Valley engineer trying to build his own company called Pied Piper. I am trying to summarise my learning and add more thoughts to it in this article.
In this episode, Richard Hendricks, Founder & CEO of Pied Piper, acquired a startup called Sliceline, which in turn acquired another startup Optimoji and got all of their engineers. Next day, Richard walked into the office and panicked looking at the 50 new employees at his office suddenly.
Jared his Chief Operating Officer welcomed Richard and introduced him to the new employees.
Panicked, Richard tried to give a welcome speech and left halfway. His fight-or-flight response kicked in and ran to his room and people watched him through the transparent glass as he puked.
Jared had already scheduled a 3 days orientation program for the new employees with Richard. With such an embarrassing introduction, Richard refused to do the orientation program and told him to cancel it.
Jared wanted Richard to talk to the employees to inspire them. Richard refused and told him that “He is a coder and the idea of building a New Internet should inspire the engineers, not him.”
Anyway, the on-boarding program got cancelled because Richard ran into the glass wall later that night.
Optimoji engineers were coding in milliseconds rather than in nanoseconds as the orientation program did not happen and they were not given any specific instructions.
Later on the same day, Optimoji guys wanted their favourite coffee machine saying that it will motivate them. Richard said YES because it motivates employees to do better work. Others guys wanted to bring their dogs to the office. So Richard waived the NO DOGS POLICY. It caused chaos in the workplace.
On the same day, Richard made another speech in front of all the employees. He emphasized why the new internet they are building is so special and told them to follow the idea and not him. Then he also told the engineers that if they are still not convinced of the idea, they can leave the company. After the speech, all of the developers left, except the founding members.
Richard thought he must to do it himself and started coding the scheduler module without taking any break. Jared saw him working so enthusiastically that he texted a few developers who left and they brought in a few others and they all watched as Richard coded with excitement. By that time Richard almost completed the scheduler module by himself in less than 24 hours which was supposed to take 4 days by their whole team.
He was so tired and suddenly his fight-or-flight reflex kicked in and he ran into the glass wall again. He got admitted in the hospital and took rest. After he came back to the office he was surprised to see all the developers working with excitement. Jared told Richard that “He inspired them to work by showcasing his passion towards the company. This is the kind of leader these people want to follow.”
- Leaders must communicate with their employees and set clear goals and boundaries.
- Leaders must not make conflicting decisions that will favor a small group of people. They must think about the big picture.
Let the individuals figure out their leadership styles
Every person has their own leadership style. Some people just talk and inspire others. Some people don’t talk much, and instead they lead by example. Some people don’t just talk but also live as an example.
Most leaders who mentor and persuade others to become leaders do one common mistake. They try to create a clone of themselves. They want others to follow the same path that worked for them.
Great leaders do not create clones of themselves, it will be an army of robots. Instead, they inspire people to become like them.