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Why leaders must set clear expectations

Leadership for Entrepreneurs

Ben Horowitz, the cofounder of Andreessen Horowitz and one of Silicon Valley’s most respected and experienced entrepreneurs wrote “The Hard thing about Hard Things.” It covers the truths about leadership and entrepreneurship. In it are so many great points for leaders in any organization. Not only is the book for entrepreneurs, but all leaders can benefit from what he has to say.

One topic to share is: Why you should train your people- not external training, but you, the leader, sitting down with your team and helping them learn, giving them the road map, explaining what “great” looks like.

What does “great” look like

Training should be the most basic requirement for all managers in your organization. It takes time but it is your primary responsibility if you want great performance out of your team.

Why? It’s one of the highest leverage activities you can perform. Because if you want them to be successful, you must invest in their development. So many times I hear from leaders I coach, that they cannot trust their people yet, or that they cannot perform consistently. How can you fix that? Train them to be better. Ramp up their performance faster by explaining exactly what you want and don’t want. Be clear with your expectations!

When I was a leader at Hewlett-Packard, my direct reports would ask what it would take to get promoted, make more money, or be ready for more responsibility, and I always spelled out what great looked like so they could reach it. It should not be a secret.

Horowitz describes Good Product Manager/Bad Product Manager as a simple exercise he used, which helped him clearly articulate expectations with product managers. He made a simple list of what Good and Bad looks like. Here are a just a few of them.

Good Product Manager

  1. Take full responsibility

  2. Knows the competition well

  3. Strong product knowledge

  4. Manager the delivery of the strategy

  5. Great communicator

  6. Measure themselves in terms of product success

Bad Product Manager

  1. Lots of excuses

  2. Define products that can’t be executed

  3. Aren’t disciplined

  4. Blame on others

  5. Blame on overwork

  6. Not enough funding

  7. My peer is an idiot, etc.

Start training today

I challenge you to come up with your own list today and start training your people tomorrow. You will enjoy higher retention, productivity, performance, quality, bonding, collaboration, and learning.


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