Newsletter Issue 42

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 Ritu Bhargava

Ritu Bhargava is the Senior Vice President of Engineering at Salesforce. We spoke on the same panel earlier this year, and I was impressed by her philosophy on leadership – especially at scale (Salesforce has 29,000 employees and her team alone has 200 people). She shared personal trials and tribulations around learning to say “no,” preparing for critical meetings, and having “Org IQ.” Catch our full chat below…


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

Have you been enjoying these Heartbeat episodes, lately? If so, it’d mean the world to me if you wrote us a review in iTunes. The more reviews we have, the more we’re able to share all our lessons from leaders. Thank you! <3


What I’ve been writing lately

How to share your company vision as a leader
“The #1 piece of information you should be focused on as a leader is sharing company vision. Here’s exactly how to do it. “

Should you do performance reviews?
“Based on input from 1,000+ managers in our Watercooler online leadership community, here’s what to consider if you’re thinking about doing performance reviews.”

What I’ve been reading lately

A Blueprint for Strategic Leadership
Seminal piece from 2007 on strategic change + leadership in organizations: “By changing the reporting relationships and structures, the networks through which people exchange information, the motivators and incentives, and the decision rights in an organization, organizations can shift their capabilities and motivate people to act in sync with the organization’s purpose.” Written by Steven Wheeler, Walter McFarland, and Art Kleiner, strategy + business

Imaginary Time Travel as a Leadership Tool
“Six studies by Bruehlman-Senecal and Ayduk confirm that when people focus on the impermanence of a distressing event, such as a poor exam performance or a relationship breakup, they feel less upset about it and less worried that it will hound them in the future. Similarly, leaders can ease the sting of current troubles by reminding others (and themselves, too) that ‘this too shall pass.’” Written by Robert Sutton, MIT Sloan Management Review

How to Give Your Team the Right Amount of Autonomy
“If you fear that people will go off in too many directions — that they won’t be aligned with strategic priorities — here’s a guardrail: Cultivate a strategic mindset… This means that everyone, even people lower down in the organization, have a sense of the business model, strategic plans, and how their work could push the organization forward.” Written by Deborah Ancona and Kate Isaacs, Harvard Business Review

What I Learned Co-Founding Dribbble
“So, while pixels can disappear and your work is temporary, people and relationships stick around. Soon, you’ll realize they are the most important part of all of this. Long after the work is gone, if you do things right, you’ll have good people, friends, co-workers, future co-workers around you that will be much more valuable than the things you created.” Written by Dan Cederholm, co-founder of Dribbble

A handy leadership tip

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

Last Word Syndrome. In meetings, the leadership team is caught up in having the last word – so meetings take longer, decisions are tabled, and people aren’t heard. What to do?

  • Get to the bottom of, “Where does it come from? Hold multiple 1:1 meetings with the person who has “last word syndrome” to understand the underlying root cause. Often times, it comes from a strong need to control. During the conversation, assure your coworker that you are there to help them and together you can find the best solutions.
  • Examine: How exactly does it manifest? For example, if there is an agreement reached, does someone feel the need to talk again and re-state what everyone’s already agreed? (Oftentimes this is a power/control issue). Looking at the behavior closely will help you determine where it’s ultimately coming from.
  • Have an agreed phrase or sign that this topic is over and time to move on. One Watercooler member had a consulted who suggested you can use colored cards that say ELMO (“Enough, Let’s Move On”) – and have any meeting members raise the cards when they feel the topic should change.
  • If an agreement isn’t reached in a meeting, record what the team didn’t agree on. This helps everyone feel heard, even if only one path is chosen forward. For example, you can document that “Principal 1, 2 and 3 wanted X. Director and Principal 4 wanted Y. We didn’t agree.”
  • Create a shared agenda where only things on it can be brought up. One Watercooler member shared how they have a Slack Channel for every meeting. If you haven’t added your topic to that Slack channel 18 hours before the meeting, you cannot raise it. This enables folks who are quieter to weigh in, reduces wasted time, and even helps resolve issues before a meeting.

Just for fun

Justin Verlander: The Astros’ Ace and Sleep Guru
The nudge around sleep we might all need 😉

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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