What’s the best way to be an effective leader?

John W. Rogers (Executive Vice President, Chief of Staff & Secretary to the Board at Goldman Sachs)
A great teammate is a great listener

Become that rare person where people know that your word is your bond and you’re going to do exactly what you say you’re going to do.

What’s the best way to be an effective leader?

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Sixteen Years Ago – AVC

Relationships are the currency of business.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Success Has A Thousand Fathers – AVC

I have a couple rules that I try very hard to live by in this regard: 1- the management team always gets the credit. VCs don’t do the dirty work and should not get the accolades when things work out. 2 – don’t gloat. it’s not becoming. humility in times of great success is a very becoming characteristic. But it’s really hard to follow these rules when things work out well. Because success doesn’t come that often, and when it does, it has a th… (read more)

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
The minimum requirements for giving effective feedback | A Founder’s Notebook

Note that giving your team effective feedback is not the same as coaching them,

Adam Bryant (Corner Office columnist and Deputy Science editor at NYTimes)
Adam Bryant Of The New York Times On What Makes Great Leaders Great

One [characteristic of the best CEOs I’ve met] is what I call “passionate curiosity,” which is this relentless questioning mind that I see in so many of the leaders I interview. They are really deeply engaged with the world. They are curious about people, their back stories.

Adam Bryant (Corner Office columnist and Deputy Science editor at NYTimes)
Adam Bryant Of The New York Times On What Makes Great Leaders Great

There’s a quality [in great CEOs] that I call a “simple mindset,” which is the ability to take a lot of complicated information and really boil it down to the one or two or three things that really matter, and in a simple way, communicate that to people. They can figure out, “Here are the four metrics; these are the three or four things that we are going to focus on,” and do it in a way that not only makes sense for today, but is likely to make … (read more)

Jeff Jordan (General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz)
Leaving It All on the Field | Jeff Jordan

Periodic 360 feedback from the organization. If you ask people for feedback and typically respond to it in a constructive way, then they will typically give it to you. Working with a talented coach that I trusted. If world-class athletes like Tiger Woods utilized swing and strength coaches, why shouldn’t executives who aspired to improve use a management and leadership coach? Find a mentor or mentor(s). I eventually made the realization that I wa… (read more)

John W. Rogers (Executive Vice President, Chief of Staff & Secretary to the Board at Goldman Sachs)
A great teammate is a great listener

Become that rare person where people know that your word is your bond and you’re going to do exactly what you say you’re going to do.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Which is better: a CEO who tolerates mediocrity or one who throws tantrums? | A Founder’s Notebook

If I had to choose between a manager who tolerates mediocrity and a manager who throws “nutters”, I’d go for the manager who throws nutters any day. Why? Because the most successful companies are built by managers who strive for, and demand excellence. They care passionately about their product and company

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown – AVC

If you are a CEO and you are feeling that uneasy head right now, look around you. Do you have the support you need from your team and your board? If the answer is no, do something about it. Because you can’t be a great leader without a great support system.
And get a coach.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown – AVC

I also encourage CEOs to join a CEO support group. Meeting regularly with peer CEOs is a great way to vent with each other about the nonsense that goes on in a company, but it is also a great place to get actionable advice and learn from each other.

Ryan Howard (Founder @ Practice Fusion)
Transcript: Protecting yourself as the founder; Ryan Howard | VatorNews

Starting off, being a founder is obviously an incredibly hard job. Macro concerns from day-to-day are simply building your business, hiring a great team, fundraising to make payroll day to day and with that, the last thing you want to do is worry about getting fired from the company that you started. The reality is that, this is a quote from the founder of Sequioa, “45% of their founding CEOs and their investments are fired after 18 months.” It’s… (read more)

Scott Cook (Founder at Intuit)
Why Intuit Founder Scott Cook Wants You To Stop Listening To Your Boss | Fast Company | Business + Innovation

We teach our leaders that it’s your job to put in the systems that enable your people to run your experiments fast and cheap and to keep making them faster and cheaper. Yield as many of your decisions off to the experiment as possible.

Amir Elaguizy (CEO Cratejoy, YC Alumni)
58 things I learned at YC – Giftshop Scientist

Ask for help (rather than try to have all the answers)

Ben Horowitz (Co-Founder & Partner @ Andreessen Horowitz)
Notes on Leadership – Ben’s Blog

The ability to articulate the vision. Can the leader articulate a vision that’s interesting, dynamic, and compelling? The right kind of ambition. Truly great leaders create an environment where the employees feel that the CEO cares much more about the employees than she cares about herself. The ability to achieve the vision. The final leg of our leadership stool is competence, pure and simple. If I buy into the vision and believe that the leader … (read more)

Brad Smith (President & Chief Executive Officer, Intuit)
Great managers ask great questions | A Founder’s Notebook

Lead With Questions Not Answers. The best leaders don’t need to have all of the answers. They surround themselves with great people, and ask the right questions. It’s not what you know. It’s the questions you ask that help you become a more effective and inspiring leader. The two greatest indicators of what we view as important are (1) how we spend our time and (2) the questions we ask.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Ideas spread inside a company due to positive energy; 8 ways to increase it | A Founder’s Notebook

At work, make time to connect with others as people. Do what you say you’re going to do. Make it bigger than your [personal interests]. Acknowledge the positives, not just the problems. Criticize ideas, not people. Be visibly and sincerely enthusiastic. Look for ways to allow others to contribute. Don’t let your expertise make others feel inferior.

Sam Altman (President at Y Combinator)
Startup Playbook

No first-time founder knows what he or she is doing. To the degree you understand that, and ask for help, you’ll be better off. It’s worth the time investment to learn to become a good leader and manager. The best way to do this is to find a mentor, reading books doesn’t seem to work as well.

Sam Altman (President at Y Combinator)
Startups, Role Models, Risk, and Y Combinator – Sam Altman

Here’s the secret: everyone starting a startup for the first time is scared, and everyone feels like a bit of an imposter. Even the most successful founders doubt themselves and their startups many times in the early days.

Semil Shah (General Partner at Haystack)
Sunday Conversation #1: Peter Fenton, Benchmark Capital – Haywire

Great entrepreneurs have a motivation that runs so deep that it feels insatiable, and that is infectious. It lets other people around them have that motivation. I think there’s just a profound, deep, innate motivation. A lot of what happens after the fanfare of starting a company and hiring people is, “Why are we here, what’s the purpose, and why are we doing this?”

Slava Akhmechet (Founder at RethinkDB)
57 startup lessons

Do everything you can not to attach your self esteem to your startup (you’ll fail, but try anyway). Do the best you can every day, then step back. Work in such a way that when the dust settles you can be proud of the choices you’ve made, regardless of the outcome.

Ben Horowitz (Co-Founder & Partner @ Andreessen Horowitz)
Why We Prefer Founding CEOs – Ben’s Blog

We see three key ingredients to being a great innovator: comprehensive knowledge, moral authority, and total commitment to the long-term. Great founding CEOs tend to have all three and professional CEOs often lack them.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
The power of asking questions: What Warren Buffett asked Bill Gates | A Founder’s Notebook

Asking great questions is a skill, and often doesnt come naturally. Im particularly bad at it. So in discussions inside Seeking Alpha, I try to step back from making assertions, to articulating the question which the assertion was supposed to answer.

Seth Godin (Founder at Yoyodyne Entertainment)
Seth’s Blog: A definition of a leader…

If you want to be a leader, go lead.

Jeffrey Minch (Entrepreneur – ‎Littlefield Advisors)
The Management Team – Guest Post From JLM – AVC

Get a mentor, a rabbi, a gray haired eminence who is willing to work with you. Golfers get swing coaches but great swing coaches work on the golfer’s head as much as his back swing. Get a professional coach.

Mitchell Harper (Co-Founder & Board Member @ Bigcommerce)
28 things I’d do differently next time around — Medium

Celebrate the good times but be brutally honest with everyone when things aren’t going well — and share your plan to get things back on track fast

Seth Godin (Founder at Yoyodyne Entertainment)
Seth’s Blog: The irrational thing about trust

We use the most basic semiotics and personal interactions to choose where to place our trust. And once the trust is broken, there’s almost no amount of transparency that will help us change our mind.

Seth Godin (Founder at Yoyodyne Entertainment)
Seth’s Blog: The irrational thing about trust

Real trust (even in our modern culture) doesn’t always come from divulging, from providing more transparency, but from the actions that people take (or that we think they take) before our eyes. It comes from people who show up before they have to, who help us when they think no one is watching. It comes from people and organizations that play a role that we need them to play.

Seth Godin (Founder at Yoyodyne Entertainment)
Seth’s Blog: “I”, “We” and “You”

Instead of saying “I” when you’re ready to take credit, try “we.” Instead of saying “we” when you’re avoiding responsibility, try “I.” And, every time you’re tempted to depersonalize the impact of your actions, try “you,” while looking the impacted person in the eye. Words matter.

Seth Godin (Founder at Yoyodyne Entertainment)
Seth’s Blog: Coercion

Real change happens because of enrollment, because it invites people in, it doesn’t use fear. Real leadership patiently changes the culture, engaging people in shared effort. It’s more difficult, but it’s change we can live with.

Unknown (who knows!?)
The Surprisingly Large Cost of Telling Small Lies

The secret to success in business and in life is to never, ever, ever tell a lie. Every time you overreport a metric, underreport a cost, are less than honest with a client or a member of your team, you create a false reality and you start living in it.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Leaders and Executives – AVC

Leadership is different than management. I have said that many times before on this blog and I will say it again. I believe it to be true. Leading is charisma, strength, communication, vision, listening, calm, connecting, trust, faith, and belief. Management is recruiting, retaining, delegating, deciding, communicating, and above all executing. Many CEOs do both for their companies. But getting leadership from the founder and management from a gr… (read more)

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
What Are We Doing? – AVC

What I am advocating for is the value of having a clear and intelligent plan, communicating it often and often, and, most importantly, mapping that plan to each team and each person in your organization. This is pretty easy when you are five people. It gets harder when you are fifty people. And it’s really hard when you are 500 people. The communication plan is very important particularly as the size of the company grows. And making it matter to … (read more)

Tony Schwartz (CEO of The Energy Project)
If you feel compelled to do something, don’t

If you’re a fighter, step back. If you tend to flee, stay engaged. I’ve found two sorts of reflection help most. “What part of this is my responsibility?” [and] “Who is the person I want to be in this situation?” Or even more specifically, “How would I behave here at my best?”

Robert Sutton (Founder and Research Director of The Network Roundtable)
Fight Like You’re Right, Listen Like You’re Wrong and Other Keys to Great Management | First Round Review

“After people talk to you, do they come away with more or less energy?”

Laura Hale Brockway (Director of Marketing Communications at Texas Medical Liability )
7 Tips to Help You Remember Names Better

Pay attention to the person’s name when it’s said. Say the name aloud as soon as possible. Comment on the name. Associate the name with something meaningful. Form a visual association between the face and the name. Keep looking at the person’s name tag or business card.

Yvon Chouinard (Founder of Patagonia)
Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman

Managers have short term vision, implement strategic plans, and keep things running as they always have. Leaders take risks, have long term vision, create the strategic plans, and instigate change.

Jeff Weiner (CEO at LinkedIn)
5 Leadership Lessons Learned from Jeff Weiner | Sachin Rekhi

It’s important to constantly repeat the team’s top objectives, the decisions that are being made, the culture you are trying to establish, and anything else you want the broad team to truly internalize. It’s equally important to drive consistency in the message, even using the exact same words to really ensure it sticks.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Dumbing Things Down – AVC

At some point you have to convince people that what you are doing is important and they should join your company, buy from your company, invest in your company, and write about your company. I like to call this “dumbing things down” but it doesn’t have to involve simplification (although that is one way to do it). It could also involve creating effective analogies, describing a future state where the technology is in mass use, or some other techn… (read more)

Geoffrey James (a contributing editor for Inc.com, is an author of the award-winning blog Sales Source)
All Great Entrepreneurs Have This | Inc.com

There is one thing and one thing alone that every great entrepreneur absolutely must possess: courage. It takes courage to forego the predictability of a corporate job. It takes courage to sacrifice your nest egg to your startup. It takes courage to take the risk of failure. And it takes courage — lots of it — to hand over the reins when your startup grows beyond your ability to manage it.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Confidence | A Founder’s Notebook

For me, confidence comes from thinking deeply about what we’re trying to achieve, and why that will benefit people. When you really believe in your vision, you’re confident — even when times are tough — that you’ll succeed.

Jason Lemkin (Managing Director at Storm Ventures, SaaStr.com)
Jason M. Lemkin’s answer to How do CEOs stay calm? – Quora

1. You must fake it. You cannot let anyone see you look like you are losing control. Ever. Once they see that… they will lose faith. 2. You need help. If you don’t have true help carrying the load — stop. Do almost nothing else. Recruit someone. 3. You need a break. In fact, lots of them. 4. You need someone to confide in. At least one. 5. Once the business is real, self-sustaining — you need to take a real vacation. Not just a trip where you ema… (read more)

Ben Horowitz (Co-Founder & Partner @ Andreessen Horowitz)
Startup founder psychology: Between euphoria and terror | A Founder’s Notebook

[as a CEO] you only ever experience two emotions: euphoria and terror. And I find that lack of sleep enhances both of them.

Charlie O’Donnell (Partner Brooklyn Bridge Ventures)
How to stay calm under immense work pressure — Charlie O’Donnell | A Founder’s Notebook

1. Take care of your physical self. 2. Consider the worst case scenarios and have a plan for them. 3. Always try to do your best work, but know and accept your limits. 4. Try to think as linearly as possible. 5. Don’t accept other people’s timelines as your own. 6. Be extremely protective of your time. 7. Get an assistant. 8. Reverse engineer the life you want to live. 9. Let other people in. 10. Get rid of the people and relationships that drain… (read more)

Eric Barker (Founder at StubHub)
How To Never Get Angry: 3 New Secrets From Neuroscience

How can you control emotions of anger in yourself? Here’s how: 1) Suppress rarely. They may not know you’re angry but you’ll feel worse inside and hurt the relationship. 2) Don’t vent. Communication is good but venting just increases anger. Distract yourself. 3) Reappraisal (changing the story you’re telling yourself about the event) is usually the best option. Think to yourself, “It’s not about me. They must be having a bad day. ”