Newsletter Issue 34

Every few weeks, I ask one question to a founder, CEO, manager, or business owner I respect…

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The Heartbeat Podcast: A chat with Cap Watkins

Cap Watkins is the founder of Practical Works, a leadership and organizational consultancy. Previously, he was the VP of Design at Buzzfeed, and was a design manager at Etsy. In our conversation, Cap and I dive into our reliance on instincts instead of tools as a leader, and how being “people first” can actually be a pitfall. Watch or listen to our conversation below.


Listen to the podcast and read the transcript of the interview here.


What I’ve been writing lately

Don’t solve problems if you want to be a great manager.
“When you’re the one thinking through all the problems, you’re teaching your team members to not think for themselves.”

What I’ve been reading lately

Building Your Company’s Vision
A seminal must-read written in 1996 by the authors of “Built to Last” on company vision: “You do not create or set core ideology. You discover core ideology. You do not deduce it by looking at the external environment. You understand it by looking inside. Ideology has to be authentic. You cannot fake it.” Written by James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras, Harvard Business Review

Using Neuroscience to Make Feedback Work and Feel Better
“Subjects in the study felt equally anxious offering feedback and receiving it, which might explain why so much workplace feedback — particularly in the United States — amounts to a series of polite statements, with few suggestions for improvement.” Written by David Rock, Beth Jones, and Chris Weller, strategy+business

How to Become a Game-Changing Leader
“It is quite simple for executives to say they aspire to build companies that are simultaneously purpose-driven, performance-focused, and principles-led. But it is remarkably difficult to actually achieve that… Why is it so hard to realize this ambition?” Written by Doug Ready and Alan Mulally, MIT Sloan Management Review

Barack Obama shares his approach to handling tough decisions
“‘I think one of the problems with people who are in big jobs is they start feeling as if they have to project that ‘I have every answer,’’ he said, ‘when, in fact, most of the time, you may not.’” Written by Lila MacLellan, Quartz

How the Most Successful Teams Bridge the Strategy-Execution Gap
“We found the key differentiators for high-performing teams to be that: 1. They spend nearly 20% more time (compared to low-performing teams) defining strategy (i.e., translating a high-level vision into clear actionable goals). 2. They spend 12% more time aligning the organization around that strategy through frequent internal communications and driving a consistent message downward into the organization.” Written by Nathan Wiita and Orla Leonard, Harvard Business Review

Insights from a Reluctant Leader
“I was taught to respect authority at all costs, go with the flow, not make waves, be… invisible. Leaders, on the other hand, particularly in tech, are revered for individualism, thinking disruptively, and remaining visibly at the forefront. Have we ever questioned the dominance of these leadership values?” Written by Margaret Lee, Director of UX Design at Google

A handy leadership tip

From our online leadership community of 1,000+ managers, in Know Your Team

What do you recommend that new managers read before starting their new role?

Something that made me pause

Luke Perry Had a Stroke and Died. I Had One and Lived.
Written by Kara Swisher. This piece will wake you up: “Basically, you all don’t have the time to be so careless in what you do and I don’t have the time to not ask you about it.”

Written by Claire Lew

CEO of Know Your Team. My mission in life is to help people become happier at work. Say hi to me on Twitter at @clairejlew.

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