Happy Birthday Seth. One of my inspirations on both the topics of Leadership and Management as well as embracing failure.
Often, I don’t think Seth puts enough balance into upside and downside sides of the scale. He tends to bias upside in his talk a lot about Leadership especially of ‘Tribes’, and he often puts down Management. But I applaud his pieces which do articulate the trade-offs soundly, an extensive variety I have to share here…
- More and Less: “The more or less choice” – “I think it comes down to one or the other: How little can I get away with? vs. How much can I do? Surprisingly, they both take a lot of work. The closer you get to either edge, the more it takes. That’s why most people settle for the simplest path, which is do just enough to remain unnoticed. No one can maximize on every engagement, every project, every customer and every opportunity. The art of it, I think, is to be rigorous about where you’re prepared to overdeliver, and not get hooked on doing it for all… because then you just become another mediocrity, easily overlooked. That means more ‘no.’ More, ‘no, I can’t take that on, because to do so means not dramatically overdelivering on what I’m doing now.’ And it means more ‘yes.’ More, ‘yes, I’m able to confront my fear and my competing priorities and dramatically step up my promises and my willingness to keep them.’” Leaders ask ‘how much can I do?’; Managers ask ‘How little can I get away with?’. Both are needed in balance to over-deliver and under-commit.
- Out on a Limb and Under a Limb: “Out on a Limb” – “That’s where artists do their work. Not in the safe places, but out there, in a place where they might fail, where it might end badly, where connections might be lost, sensibilities might be offended, jokes might not be gotten. If you work with artists, don’t saw off the limb. Don’t waste a lot of time explaining how dangerous it is, either. No, your job is to quietly support the limb at the same time you egg your team on, pushing them ever further out there.” Leaders go out on a limb, Managers underpin the limb.
- Possibility and Competence: “Competence and Possibility” – “It’s easy to fall in love with that competence, to appreciate it and protect it. The pitfall? We close ourselves off from possibility. Possibility, innovation, art–these are endeavors that not only bring the whiff of failure, they also require us to do something we’re not proven to be good at. After all, if we were so good at it that the outcome was assured, there’d be no sense of possibility.” Leaders have a sense of possibility, Managers have a common sense of competence.
- Love and Annoying: “Love and Annoying” (thanks Michael Newberry) – “The goal is to create a product that people love. If people love it, they’ll forgive a lot. They’ll talk about it. They’ll promote it. They’ll come back. They’ll be less price sensitive. They’ll bring their friends. They’ll work with you to make it better. If you can’t do that, though, perhaps you can make your service or product less annoying.” Leaders create lovable products; Managers create less annoying products.