Leadership in Lieu of Management


Like many founders, I started a business to escape the typical 9-to-5 and to be my own boss. Along the way I accidentally became other peoples' boss. That was not the plan. Part of the reason I left Google in the first place was because I had no career path aside from becoming a manager, which I didn't want to do.

So I left Google and started Tortuga. The idea was to create a passive income business and to live off of the money that would come rolling in. That's not quite how it worked out.

A decade later, I'm a CEO responsible for nine other people.

Along the way, I've had to learn how to lead the company and the team without becoming the type of manager I had always rebelled against. I've had to build a company that I would actually want to work at. Here's what I've learned so far.

The Differences Between Coaching and Managing: Replacing managers and direct reports with Coaches and Players.

I Fucked Up (and You Can Too): A real email that I sent to our team providing a lesson in transparency and risk-taking.

Creating Psychological Safety: A shared belief, held by members of a team, that the group is a safe place for taking risks.

Goal-Oriented Communication: You decide the what, not the how.

9 Teammates, 0 Employees: Words matter. The language that you use sends a message to your team. What message do you want to send?

A Place To Do Epic Work: Creating a place where high performers want to work.

Removing Barriers to Growth: You must make success as easy as possible.

Between Autocracy and Holocracy and Decentralized Decision Making: Empowering your team without losing control.

Goal-Oriented Communication: Moving the business forward and accomplishing your goals while creating autonomy for your team. Here's the trick: you tell them what and why. Let them figure out how.

A Thank You Letter to the Bad CEOs: I am grateful for your inability to control yourself. Every time you yell at one of your good employees, I get a little closer to poaching them.