What Facebook tells us about the future of leadership

attitude and leadership

This article on Leadership development at Facebook is perhaps one of the best I’ve read this year.  Part of the reason why is that Facebook recognizes they work and live in a world beyond “tried and true methodology.”  As noted here they abhor titles, competency models and hierarchy. Their core competences are getting “Getting Stuff” done. They loath mandates. Yet they get things done. Think about it. All along the process on a daily basis they are creating leaders at the speed of thought. Can you do that? Are you? Why not? Jim

Silicon Valley has a reputation: young, entitled engineers who don’t believe they have a whole lot to learn from seasoned, corporate leaders. To what degree is that fair and how, if at all, does this influence the way you develop leaders at Facebook?

As a 56-year-old guy, I went through a period where I looked at these young kids and thought, “Wait until you get your butt kicked out in the real world.” But I quickly realized this is the real world. And they’re making it their own. This is the future of work. It doesn’t look much like the world of work where I started. But I’m completely awed by the high performing individuals I get to coach everyday, most of whom are young enough to be my kids.

Our whole approach to leadership development at Facebook is coherent with the fact that we’re an engineering company to the core, and we’re led and run by Millennials. We have no interest in a competency-based model of leadership. That doesn’t fit who we are. Our engineering, Millennial roots shape who we are from top to bottom.

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How does that shape the way you approach leadership development?

Engineers are trained to be skeptics. As a result, you see an embedded-skepticism all across the company. There’s zero tolerance for talking heads. The driving question is “What works?” There are posters all over campus that say things like, “Move fast and break things” and “Done is better than perfect.” Our engineering DNA shapes everything we do, including leadership development.

How do you convince engineering techies that soft skills like cultural intelligence matter?

I haven’t thought about my coaching work as providing “soft skills” in a long time because there’s a hunger for these kinds of skills by our people. We’re an extremely flat, meritocratic company. So it’s impossible to get anything done unless you have the ability to influence and inspire people. You can’t run to a boss and have them issue a mandate to get something done. You’re going to have to figure out how to get it done yourself.

Read more via What Facebook tells us about the future of leadership.

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Jim Woods is president of The Jim Woods Group. A management consulting firm. Go here to see his work www.jimwoodsgroup.com. He advises and speaks to organizations large and small on how to increase top line growth in times of uncertainty and complexity. Some of his speaking and consulting clients include: U.S. Army, MITRE Corporation, Pitney Bowes, Whirlpool, and 3M. See more at his website www.jimwoodsgroup.com.

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Posted in Authentic Leadership, Culture

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