#32 – Leadership and Management – Part 2 – How to execute, values systems and our core beliefs

In this episode, we end our discussion on Leadership and Management: we delve into how to execute; explore values systems, including our own; and share our core beliefs. 


  • Intro (01:34)
  • Section 1: How to Execute (02:08)
  • Section 2: Culture & Values, Our Core Beliefs (20:11)
  • Conclusion (34:57)
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Tech DECIPHERED brings you the Entrepreneur and Investor views on Big Tech, VC and Start-up news, opinion pieces and research. We decipher their meaning, and add inside knowledge and context. Being nerds, we also discuss the latest gadgets and pop culture news

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Intro (01:34)

Bertrand Schmitt

Welcome to Episode 32 of Tech DECIPHERED, our second and last episode of this series on leadership and management. In our previous episode, Episode 31, we focus on defining leadership versus management. We spend time talking about the different styles of leadership management. In this episode, Episode 32, we are going to focus on how to execute and how to create and build the right culture through the right values.

Section 1 – How to Execute

Nuno Goncalves Pedro

How to execute, how to do this? What are the levers that you have to lead and to manage?

Bertrand Schmitt

I would like to share one perspective I’ve got, what the CEO’s job? I’m talking about a company at some level of scale, obviously not five people, ten people team, but we’re talking about 50 people plus type of company. What’s your job at scale? I believe that you have to have on one side a deep vision, clear vision. You have to bring your team on board.

You have to either keep convincing your existing team, bring new members on board, evaluate existing ones, and you have to manage the cash, because if you run out of cash, that’s a big problem. In a way, there is this metaphor of being like the bus driver. You have to view outside of you, you have to let people in, sometimes, unfortunately, let people out, and you have to keep the gas. If you don’t do all these three, at the very least, that’s big trouble for the business.

As we discussed, if you are a tech organization, specifically a tech company, you probably need to be as well a product CEO. But at the very core at minimum, you need these three vision, bringing a team, managing cash, as the key pieces of the game as a CEO.

Nuno Goncalves Pedro

Agreed. I would make a caveat here, which is my view on product CEOs in tech is they are the most dominant type. There are other types that work well, in particular in the B2B environment, in business-to-business. The more commercial-driven CEO, the person who has extreme experience in sales or in business development or corporate development. We’ve seen a few of those people doing very well in B2B.

Again, by nature, tech product CEOs do relatively well. But in B2B, certainly I think we’ve seen great examples of amazing CEOs that, honestly, are not that technical. But they are very good at selling and they’re very good at doing a bunch of other things. There’s a few people that come to mind, but again, not to get any hate mail, I will not go into details.

I agreed fully with your vision, Bertrand, and the metaphor is very accurate on the bus. The job of the CEO has several dimensions to it as well. Effectively, a CEO needs to manage for the long term and for the short term, and when managing for the long term, strategy comes into play. A set of integrated actions that leads to competitive advantage. Normally, you measure it in years, two to five years. It’s something that is really far in the future.

You have tactics. Normally, tactics is something that you think through as more the one to two year things. It might be a big initiative, a big product launch, something that is neither four or five years from now, but certainly not something that we’re going to get done this year. You need to think through how that is done and then serve the classic final pieces operations, which is the one month, three months, six months, one year, we need to get this done. What are we doing in our day to day and how are we thinking through this?

In some ways, the CEO role is very difficult because of this, because it is a little bit of a necessarily paranoid role where you’re always looking very, very far ahead and trying to think about two to five years, how big can this be and how can we scale, et cetera, but at the same time, you’re thinking about right now and what happened today and how can I compete and how can I go and do this, et cetera.

What makes this particularly difficult is time allocation, for example. How do I allocate my time? I remember having clients at McKinsey, one client in particular, I won’t name them, but one client that one day turned to me and said, “I envy you.” I said, “Why do you envy me?” This guy was CEO of an organization. He said, “I envy you because you have time to actually think about my business.”

I was like, “Wait a second, you’re the CEO of this business. I’m a consultant. I’m leading a team of consultants working on projects, engagements for you. How can you say that?” “I went to my calendar, and I would estimate that, at most, I have 15 to 30 minutes a week that I get to actually have thinking time about my business.

Normally, I’m just basically 80, 90% firefighting crap, stuff that happens, that just goes across whatever. I get maybe 5% more on managing stakeholders, board, customers, clients, whatever, in a more proactive manner. It’s not so much firefighting, more proactive, whatever. Then there’s very little time left for anything else. You guys, in whatever three-month engagement that you’re doing, for me, will have more time to think about my business than I did in the last six years.”

In some ways, I know he was exaggerating. This was not a badly run organization, just to be clear. Sometimes you do work with badly run organizations. It was just a very large organization where the CEO, at the end of the day, his role was just tough. It’s tough to think strategically when you don’t even have the time to do it.

Bertrand Schmitt

It was not just on being you because you were young and handsome. That was for other reasons.

Nuno Goncalves Pedro

I was young back then, I’m not sure I was handsome, but it was many kilograms ago. How is that handsome?

It shows the difficulty of the role. For example, one thing that I always do when I have leadership roles in different organizations is I carve out time to think. I put time in my calendar. I’m extreme calendarer as many people have told me. I put time in my calendar on a weekly basis to actually just think.

I create situations in which I think. I create situations where I can be in my backyard overlooking the ocean and I think, I can create situations in which I go to a place that is particularly pleasant to me, like drinking coffee or whatever, to think. To be very honest, a lot of my best ideas in terms of forward-looking strategic elements and even sometimes even operations, like day-to-day stuff that were not cracking.

Some of the best ideas come during those moments where your brain just creates the space to not have the day-to-day biases. The bias towards an action that comes after another action. The bias to say maybe this is the wrong way, maybe we should just change this. I think having that discipline, the discipline to create those spaces is very, very important.

Bertrand Schmitt

Yeah. To double down, because it’s an important topic, sometimes I see people who tell me, “Oh, I only have time for the tactics.” I think it’s a big mistake. You absolutely need to do both. When I say you need to do both, if you are the CEO, maybe you are stronger on one side or the other, but that’s why you have to build a team and work out all together.

Ultimately, you need to spend enough time on the short-term view, running the business, operations, and the long-term view. What does it mean? Why are we doing this? What’s our strategy? How are we going to get there on the longer run? You have to combine both. People will tell you they can do only one thing or the other. They don’t have time. You have to make the time to do both well.

Strategy without tactics, you are going to die pretty quickly if you don’t have the execution right. If you just have the execution right, you are going to run very fast to a cliff or to a wall. Both don’t work. People have to really get that to build a great and maybe even a good organization, you need absolutely both. You need to get right both. Not negotiable.

Nuno Goncalves Pedro

I studied with Professor Burgelman at Stanford back in the day, and he wrote this book called Strategy is Destiny that formed a lot of my thinking around strategic planning. I had a variety of strategy roles in my career, and in some ways, I always thought the title of the book, I told him this, shouldn’t have been Strategy is Destiny, but Strategy is Direction. Probably less sexy of a name, I guess.

Strategy defines where you’re going to, to shoot to find North Star. A lot of people think about strategy as beautiful charts in a slide deck. It’s not that. Strategy, as I mentioned before, is an integrated set of actions that leads to competitive advantage, right? There’s actions for strategy.

For me, tactics then becomes a little bit the pillars, the building of the core pillars, the present ones and the future ones. Then operations, to your point, is the building, it’s getting stuff done. It’s, “Okay, how do we now move this?” That’s how I look at these three dimension, strategy, tactics, and operations put together.

One other topic is the whole topic of, and we’ve already addressed it a little bit, of breadth versus depth in the CEO role, and how sometimes being a helicopter-type CEO or leader is advantageous because you can go very deep very quickly and have that depth to have the discussion and push stuff to the next level.

Sometimes the devil’s in the detail. I always say the devil’s in the detail, but God is also in the detail. Sometimes you find that amazing piece that will catalyze the company to the next level. We have plenty of examples in our tech industry of companies that a small detail of something that was tweaked create tons of value for the company, either monetary value or user growth or something like that. Sometimes very small things, a growth hack, a change in pricing.

It can kill someone who can also build a company. The breadth is always important, in my opinion, for the CEO role in terms of having the ability to jump from different topics and being a little bit more multifaceted. Now, it doesn’t mean that CEOs need to be amazing at everything. It just means that they will need to have the right team behind them in certain areas, where they’re not amazing or they’re not great.

It means that in the areas that they’re great, sometimes they will need to actually be intellectually honest. It’s one of the tests I always do with startup entrepreneurs. I check for their superpower, and then I check if they are intellectually honest on their superpower, because that’s the biggest, single, biggest blind spot they may have is that on their superpower, let’s say, their product people, they’re not going to listen to others, that they’re not going to look to a data. We’ve seen plenty of examples of that in recent history in technology.

Again, breadth is not just that I’m very broad and I can address all sorts of topics, and I’m a true Leonardo da Vinci. It’s not that. It’s the ability to have the right team around you, and in particular, the ability to know when you’re not the right person for that call.

In some ways it’s almost like the AA motto, which I don’t know by heart, but it’s the notion of knowing what I can do and where I can improve today, knowing where I can’t, and actually knowing the difference is probably where most of the value is. Knowing the difference the things I can control and the things I can’t control is probably the most important thing for a CEO at a certain point in time.

Bertrand Schmitt

That’s really great point. To rebound on that, I think that metrics are really a key part of any business, a key part of any manager role. But I’m also a believer that you have to have common sense regards instincts that are right and that lets you move fast. Sometimes some people just misinterpret the data, wait too long for the right data to be there, or just blindly follow the data. I think it’s quite key there is an art to it, and I think it’s a balance that’s also quite key to understand.

Again, not everyone has everything. As a team, you need to have that. I truly believe in it. Maybe another piece on the execution, if you are in a fast growing startup business, you really have to acknowledge that your job is going to change every 12-24 months and your job and most of your team’s job typically.

My point here is that you have to be in learning mode, in coachable mode a lot. You cannot stick to what you know to your current comfort zone. You cannot just hope for more of the same. If your business is relatively fast-growing, you have no choice but to change your job, your own job, on a regular basis.

Initially, it might require you to be more deep into the search process, to be more focused on the competition. At some point in time, however, things change. Your market is going bigger, competition is stronger. You are bringing new people to the table in your executive team. We have a different level of expertise. You have different financing questions, issues.

I think that’s quite important as a leader to recognize a change in your org, in your competitive environment, even in the market. We are not going to talk right now about the change in the financing market for startups, but dramatic change is happening right now. We need to acknowledge that and adjust your organization, your job, and your team around you.

Nuno Goncalves Pedro

There’s a couple of elements to what you said that are really important. One, I would put a parenthesis—in some organizations early on, as everyone knows, I do early stage investing—the job of all even change a bit quicker than that, sometimes every six months, sometimes even every three. That’s a bit too fast, but sometimes it happens.

But there is something about cadence, and I think the CEO is the one that sets the tone for this. Cadence is space. It’s at what pace do we go and how do we impress the space. I think it was Mario Andretti used to say, “If you’re driving a race car and you don’t feel uncomfortable, you’re not going fast enough.” It has to push you outside your boundaries.

I actually race cars, and I think he’s right. I’m not going fast enough.

Bertrand Schmitt

Maybe you want to live.

Nuno Goncalves Pedro

Exactly. There’s a level of discomfort you need to create as well in terms of pace to really get to the next level. Amazing things only get done fast and well if you push the boundaries on it.

Cadence, the piece of cadence that’s really important is you can’t always be full throttle. In a small organization, you can’t. In a large organization, you can’t. In a specific department, you can’t. Because what will happen? You’ll burn out everyone. Everyone will get burned out. You’ll create tons of antibodies, and it will be the worst possible outcome in the end, because people will end up leaving or their performance will get severely hampered.

I always used to say I never understood the point at McKinsey of people pushing their teams when I was a partner there, when people would push their teams to 80-90 hour week. I was a consultant once, and I used to pull 90 hour, 100 weeks. And I was like, “There’s no way there was high quality at the end of those 90-100 hours.” You can’t do that. You need to step back at some point. Maybe you need to do it one week. Maybe you need to do it two weeks because it’s live, but you can’t systematically do it.

Again, cadence is the ability, if you’re a CEO, to manage the pace and the rhythm at which you operate at every single moment. It might be that, at some point, you’re pushing your marketing guys to go very aggressive, but you’re stepping back a little bit on the product management team and letting them have a little bit of a breather because it’s just at a huge launch.

It might be that, at some point, you push the hell out of engineering to get stuff done, but then you go at the same time to one of your business development teams and tell them, “Look, we can’t do as many deals as we were doing before because we don’t have engineers to the integration, so just chill a little bit.”

There’s a lot of this cadence across the organization that the CEO is critical at. Nobody else can do this. There’s nobody else that can do this because the chief technology officer is going to push for something. The chief marketing officer is going to push for something different. The chief development officer, chief strategy development officer is going to push for something different.

It is the absolute role of the CEO to do what I would call is in some ways the facilitation, maybe the arbitrator is the best word, of all these resources. Cadence, again, plays to this. “I’m going to push this, but I’m going to step back on this. I need to do this, otherwise, it doesn’t work.”

In many cases, success will very well also depends on these little levers on how well do you do this and how well you push the people that work with you, your direct reports, in particular the CXOs, or the VPs, or the directors, how well do you push them to do this well. It may be the difference between a miserable failure or huge success. Sometimes it’s just timing and how things come together.

To finalize just on some thinking around this, and I know we both like Dan Rose a lot, and particular, Bertrand is a big fan, a fanboy. I like Dan a lot. I think his tweets are more insightful than many books out there.

Bertrand Schmitt

Da Vinci.

Nuno Goncalves Pedro

In terms of leadership, he talks about this concept of leadership requires followership. I find this funny because followership is all over at McKinsey. McKinsey, we talked about followership since day one, what that means. There are several angles of analysis on the performance of someone.

But for example, for a partner, three of the angles of analysis are knowledge, which is very interesting even for a partner. What knowledge do you have? Is it distinctive or not in your area, be it industry or functional? Another one is client—client relation, client serving, how do clients perceive you.

Then there’s always an important dimension about what we call people at the firm, which is how do the rest of the people around you perceive you, not only your colleagues, but also the people that work normally for you, for example, in engagements. There’s this incredible notion of followership.

For McKinsey, this is particularly true because at McKinsey, if I’m a really good associate and I don’t like you as a partner, next time, I won’t work with you. I have a say. I will tell whoever is managing staffing, I’m not working for this guy again. I’m going to work for that person because I’m a super, so I can choose. I have choice, right? It’s, again, demand and supply is very open at the firm. The best people work on the projects they want to work in. That’s how it works.

Followership is almost this intrinsic piece of, “I want to follow that person. I want to follow their path. I want to learn with that person. I want to be working on the same things they work in.” In organizations, this is vital. It’s vital in a specific organization. It’s vital across organizations and within a career.

We see a lot of these dimensions. We talk a lot about the PayPal Mafia in Silicon Valley. But honestly, the PayPal Mafia was this—it was a bunch of people that work together, some of which probably like each other, some of which actually didn’t. But they had respect for each other; they had respect for different skills. And that’s what created that mafia, that gang of people that still do stuff together, that still maybe co-invest together when they need to. That’s still our market movers and market makers when they need to be.

That’s all followership. It’s all about the notion of I want to be with that person. That person is a great leader and/or a great manager. I want to be with that person. That person makes me feel that I’m evolving, that I’m becoming better.

One ultimate result of followership is mentorship. When you have a mentor, when you have someone that you will go to many years out, even maybe when you’ve left your organization, ask that person, I have this decision to make. How would you think through it? Am I making the right decision, et cetera.

It’s such a blessed moment when someone you worked with many years ago or that maybe, in some cases, you didn’t even work at all with, but you exchanged meetings or they were in the same organization, reaches out to you and say, “Can you give me advice on this? And it’s life advice. I need to move from this job to this one. I have these three options. What should I do?”

And that’s when you say, “Okay, this is followership. This is the definition of it. Very powerful.”

Bertrand Schmitt

If you don’t have followers, no, you are not a leader. You might be a dictator; you might be a mercenary; it might be many thing. But true followership, it only goes to true leadership. That’s a great way to think about what it means to be a leader. Come to your followers and you will get a sense if you do a good job.

Section 2 – Culture & Values, Our Core Beliefs

Nuno Goncalves Pedro

Moving to our section on culture and values. We truly believe that culture and values set a lot of the tone for great leadership and management experiences. We’re going to start with one of Bertrand’s favorites, so I’ll let him go for it.

Bertrand Schmitt

This one is indeed one of my favorite. I have seen that again and again by managers at every level of an organization, from a new manager up to CEOs. It’s that notion of delegating versus abdicating. I see people who are very proud to let their team, in a way do whatever they want, and they believe that’s enough. I don’t call that delegating. I call it abdicating.

I believe that you absolutely need to ensure that you understand what your team is doing. You lead them, you challenge them, you push them. If you don’t do that, just to be clear, I don’t know why I need you as a manager. If you are just letting stuff fly by you, you are not necessarily in the org. You need to be involved.

Too many people are really afraid because they have this worry to be seen as a micromanager. But you can totally be managing a team without nano-managing if you are careful. But please don’t go too far. Don’t go into abdication mode, because then you become irrelevant and useless, and you would be seen as such by your team relatively quickly.

Nuno Goncalves Pedro

I’ll throw a key value into there being outcome-driven and not driven by necessarily just FaceTime and processes. For me, the notion that I’m asking people that work with me to say these are the outcomes that I expect you to get to is very powerful. Now, it’s a little bit more nuanced than just saying, “Okay, I’m just setting objectives or just setting outcomes, and you just get to it and that’s it. Or I’m setting OKRs and we’re good.”

In some cases, you need to step in because your team will need your help, or someone on your team will say, “Can you help me on this? I’m having difficulties getting through this thing that you told me to do, and I’m not really sure what you want as an outcome, and you need to define it more.”

In some case, you might actually have to get your hands dirty and show how it’s done, but it’s more at the pace of this interaction with your team members, the pace of obviously what you want to attain in terms of objectives, but at the pace also of your team members and how do you get there.

But again, I’m a big believer in outcome versus FaceTime versus micromanage for the sake of it. We’ll talk about micromanagement later. For me, that’s the one I would put at the table immediately.

Bertrand Schmitt

Makes sense. I think you’re totally right. It’s even more true in the age of remote work. In a way, remote work has put that to the test. Companies that are not outcome-driven don’t work in a remote work environment because the way you evaluate people and results is just based on FaceTime, not on really have we achieve our results or not.

A management style and attitude, call it a management philosophy that I like and I wanted to share. It’s called radical candor, and it has been pretty popular in Silicon Valley, and I believe it still is. The idea here is to make sure you are in the right quadrant.

They defined two axes. One is around challenging or not challenging your team, people you work with. From either silence to very direct challenge. They say, “Yeah, it’s right,” and obviously you have to challenge. But you also have to find a balance on the other end between being just in a way stupidly aggressive versus caring personally for the person in front of you. If you manage to combine direct challenge with personal care, you end up with what we call a radical candor.

Maybe we can have more topics about this, but I think that’s a very important concept. If you don’t challenge directly, it’s a big problem. You are either too empathic, you might say, but actually, it’s strenuous for the relationship, for the business. Or you can decide to be manipulative and not anything but manipulate behind the scenes. That’s horrible.

On the other hand, you cannot just aggressively attack. At some point, people will stop listening to you because you’re just not someone that you can work easily. You need to smooth things out, and you need to not just smooth things out, but really care for people.

I wanted to share that because I believe and I’m not saying it’s the only one, but that one I favor. You need to have some sort of management philosophy and how you are going to run your team, that you can explain it, share it, train people around it, and ultimately create the right culture for your company.

Nuno Goncalves Pedro

I like the radical candor methodology, and I know a couple of practitioners in it. There have been other movements before that are similar or have similarities to it. A lot of people could say for some time I practice tough love.

Bertrand Schmitt

It is tough love, it is tough love.

Nuno Goncalves Pedro

Authentic tough love as I would call it, because there was no inauthenticity. I’m trying to move towards true love. It’s more difficult true love where the boundaries come. I think there’s a couple of rules that I would apply to this. One, it needs to be authentic.

Bertrand Schmitt


Nuno Goncalves Pedro

It needs to come to a place of authenticity. If there’s no authenticity, it doesn’t work.

Bertrand Schmitt

So true.

Nuno Goncalves Pedro

In the US there’s so much artificiality, there’s so much BS stuff that is said that is not meant, et cetera. You have to be very careful. It’s a very thin line, but that line is literally everything.

The second piece is it needs to go a little bit both ways in the sense of you need to be willing to take feedback. In, again, McKinsey example, 360-degree feedback. Actually, McKinsey was 720 because we had client feedback as well.

But I think getting feedback from people upwards as well is important and taking that feedback on board and more difficult, creating the environment under which people that are more junior give feedback to people that are more senior is really a powerful thing. Then I think the final piece of the puzzle here is beyond authenticity, beyond all of this, that there needs to be genuine caring. I call it genuine love.

There needs to be genuine willingness that I want this person to be the best person they can be. That also means I want this person to actually be happy in doing what they’re doing. In some cases, it might lead to really complex decisions where maybe the right thing for that person is actually not to work with me or not to work in this organization, because that’s not what we need right now or because maybe that’s not the type of skill sets that that person needs to develop, et cetera.

For example, the extreme view for me on this notion of what I am trying to get to of true love is might be saying to someone, “Actually, maybe it’s time for you to go do something else and maybe I should help you doing that.: It’s very funny, because McKinsey has always thought through as a very aggressive organization. I think McKinsey was actually decent at that, at the whole placement piece and maybe you should be doing something else. And it’s not that you’re not good. It’s just this is maybe not the right thing. Again, something that I’m very passionate about.

One more value that I would add is by example and not by memos. Sometimes memos aren’t necessary. Sometimes communication needs to be written and needs to put down. There needs to be an anchor that people can be coming back to. A video, an email, a memo that was written.

But normally what people pay attention to is the example. If the person doesn’t know how to do it, do I step in and help them? Do I show them how it’s done? If I’ve made a mistake and I’m the senior person, if I’m the CEO and if I’ve made a mistake, do I apologize? I had a conversation the other day with someone in my team, and we ended up having this conversation that was just a bit circular.

I told this person, “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but everyone on the senior side of the team, we sometimes apologize, and you just did something that’s visible your fault. It’s not a huge deal. Nobody’s going to die. But you did something that’s absolutely wrong and it was clearly wrong and you didn’t.” I think this was a radical candor moment with this guy.

He was like, “I think you’re right.” But it’s not the culture and companies in particular in the US for people to apologize because it’s always a signal of strength. Actually in American society, I think maybe it’s more than a signal of weakness, apologies, signal of weakness. It’s more than weakness. It’s also a signal of potential “Maybe this person can take me to court. If I said I did something wrong”.

I don’t know where it came from, but it’s weird. It’s that type of example that I mentioned here. Example is the small things, but also the very big things. When a CEO apologizes to the rest of the team, that’s a big deal, and it does set the example.

Bertrand Schmitt

One thing I hold dearly is strong opinion weakly held. That’s something that you might hear a bit in the valet, and I immediately connected to that wording because I really believe quite a lot in it. I believe I have strong opinions. Typically, if I don’t, I don’t talk about it.

But it’s typically weakly held in the sense that if you show me data, if you show me a better argument, if you show me a flow in my reasoning, I will buy it. I just care about the best outcome for me, for the business, for the team. Ultimately, I will adjust relatively quickly.

But the benefit of a strong opinion is also that people have to come ready for “a fair fight”. A strong discussion come with a strong argument, so that ultimately the best argument win.

My follow-up to this is that I’m obviously a big believer in meritocracy, and for me, it can be the young person, the young developers, the young analysts, whoever. I don’t care. I just want the best ideas win, the best approach win, the best product to win. I think it’s really key in how you want to run the business.

Because the minute people stop believing it’s a meritocracy that’s when you start losing it, you will not win with the best idea, you will win with the best schmoozer around. We know how to say things nicely, but he’s just following the winds and doesn’t have merit on his own and he’s not trying to bring the best ideas. For me, that’s pretty key in how you want to run a business.

Nuno Goncalves Pedro

I totally agree with those two values. Just a tidbit for our regular listeners. Strong Opinions Weakly Held was supposed to be the title of our podcast when we ended up in Tech DECIPHERED. True, but Strong Opinions Weakly Held was almost the title of our podcast. It’s something that Bertrand stood by for a long time and I’m a big believer in as well.

Using the other side of the Strong Opinion Weakly Held piece and going to some values that I certainly have tried to bring into my companies, into Chamaeleon VC firm that I’m one of the managing partners of. I would call it intellectual honesty. You have to stand by one’s beliefs and opinions debated, but be open to change one’s mind when given strong argumentation and/or facts and admit when you’re wrong. I fully agree with that. It is about having opinions but then having the argument and then being intellectually honest.

One belief I have as well is this notion of low ego and get stuff done. How difficult is that? Low ego and get stuff done. The get stuff done I think is probably easier, but the low ego stuff is tough because we all humans are in some ways, it’s gradients of egotistical. We all have our egos.

It’s like we all believe we have a little bit of pride and we have a little bit of “Okay, we want to feel like we’re respected and loved by others. We want to feel like others respect our knowledge in that area.” But that’s something I try to at least bring to the table and we try to work very hard at. Again, it’s more of a work that we keep pushing. We’ve talked about continuous learning and self-improvement.

Falling upwards, the notion of failing and rebounding and using the failure as the beginning of the rebound, not just necessarily toughening it out, but actually using it as a positive catalyst, the failure becoming the rebound for whatever comes next. Then I would highlight just a few more from things that I’ve thought over the years that I’m very passionate about, and I’ll take my hat off, one to McKinsey and the other one to Amazon.

The McKinsey one is the obligation to dissent. Every one of McKinsey’s one of the values. It’s obligation to dissent, which means if I’m an associate or business analyst to the most junior person on the engagement team, I don’t have the right, I have an obligation to say there’s something wrong about this. There’s something wrong about the recommendation we’re making at this point. There’s something wrong about this analysis, et cetera.

If you don’t say anything and you later mention it, it is a big deal. You should have mentioned it before. Creating again, that culture is very difficult because there has to be openness by the more senior people inside the room to say, “Okay, we need to listen to this person because it’s one of our values. We can’t dismiss them or take it against them.” It can’t be the reverse whistleblowing thing. It is something that I like to abide by.

Finally, the shout out to Amazon is dissent and commit, which is strategic discussions are amazing and they’re very important. There’s a lot of why, whats. But once there is a decision made by someone, whoever is the right holder of that decision, the CEO, the chief product officer, whoever it is, the team has to commit to the decision. Each individual, even if they didn’t share on the view that was the right decision to take.

This is again, very very tough. But it is very important to drive an organization because otherwise you’re going to have a bunch of people that are not fully executing, because they’re like, “I don’t agree with this anyway.” And worse, if it doesn’t work out, they’ll be the first guys to say, “Well, I told you so, this is the wrong thing and whatever.”

It creates all these dynamics that are very negative, lack of execution, focus, nobody’s all in. In creating, again, this notion of dissent and commit, you just, “Okay, I’ll argue, but then I will go and fight with you once the decision is made.” It’s again difficult to orchestrate in an organization. But once you do it, it’s beautiful. It’s beautiful that you’re side by side with other people that were just fighting two days before. And right now, you’re just giving it your best to make this idea actually work.

Bertrand Schmitt

Yeah, I totally agree on the importance on the dissent and commit. That was also one of my favorite. As you say, it’s key. You can dissent, but after that you have to commit once a decision is made. If you play games behind it, if you keep pushing back, nothing can be executed.

Nuno Goncalves Pedro

One or two final ones from my end, integrity and respect are fundamental. I already talked about authenticity and how vital that is. Authentic things come across very quickly, but integrity and respect is very important. A lot of the issues we see today with bad behaviors and companies and all these issues starts just there. Integrity and respect are not part of the equation and people don’t really stand by it.

Sometimes there are trade-offs. Sometimes there are trade-offs in terms of speed of getting stuff done, et cetera. But having that ability is very important.

Then last but definitely not the least from my side is to have fun. It’s very funny because that have-fun piece is one of my first early signals of “there’s something we need to work here”. If nobody’s having fun we have a problem.

If we’re all working really hard and we’re all trying to make stuff move but nobody’s having fun, then we’re doing something wrong, or we’re in the wrong environment or the wrong path, I don’t know. But it’s like the fun piece is important. It’s not that we’re all a rugby-pack mentality leaders and we’re all together but we’re all kicking each other’s butts if we’re not delivering and we all have to win.

It’s more nuanced than that. It’s the notion that it should be fun to work together with people that you enjoy working with that you respect and they’re very different.

Bertrand Schmitt

I think it’s clear that the key point of the game. Life is too short if you are going to commit to work 40, 50, 70 hours a week. You better have some fun. Be around people you can enjoy and have a good time at it. Life is really too short.


Nuno Goncalves Pedro

This concludes our two-part episode on leadership and management. We hope you have enjoyed it. We went through the definition of what leadership and management is. We typify different styles of leadership and management, explored various value systems and shared some of our core beliefs along the way.

We hope you liked it. Follow us, give us five stars, and tell us where should we take this topic next. Thank you, Bertrand.

Bertrand Schmitt

Thank you, Nuno.