Leaders Don’t Make Good Managers

This is a short excerpt of the full interview that I came across over at the NY Times corner office page.  I loved the spirit of Jay Walker's answers...

Jay Walker on Why Leaders Don’t Always Make Good Managers

Let’s say I came to work for you. What should I know about what you’re like as a boss?

You don’t work for me. You work for you.

I would correct you right out of the box. My style is not to perpetuate a false illusion that you work for me. You work for you. You get up every day and you come in here because you want to be here. We’re not having a discussion about who’s in charge. If you have a better idea, great. Let’s hear it.

I wouldn’t try to encapsulate a set of rules and regulations to say here’s how I do things. But I will tell you that I’m highly collaborative and interested in the best thinking. If you can express yourself well, that’s good. If you can’t, that’s a big problem.

My style would be to say: What are you trying to accomplish? How are you going to do that? How can I help you? You might say: “Jay, what I need to succeed is for you to never talk to me. Just send me emails. And I’ll deliver in spades what you want.” Then I’ll say, “O.K., let’s see if that works.”

Like any entrepreneur, I’m highly adaptable. You work with what you’ve got, not with what you want. And what you’ve got is often an incomplete set of facts, an insufficient amount of capital, an insufficient amount of knowledge about the key things you need and insufficient people to do that job. Other than that, welcome to the job.

How do you hire?

If you haven’t failed, that’s a big problem.

I’m looking for the things you would expect — people who are thoughtful, passionate, adaptable and who have failed, preferably two or three times. If you haven’t failed, that’s a big problem.

What is your single best interview question?

there is no room in the rowboat for somebody who can’t pull the oar

Tell me how you’re going to make a great deal of impact on our organization, and how you’re going to make us both a lot of money. In a small firm, there is no room in the rowboat for somebody who can’t pull the oar, because everybody else has to pull that oar.

What career and life advice do you give to new college grads?

It’s all about adding value above your job description, not just doing the job. You’ve got to exceed that by a substantial margin if you really want to get ahead.

The No. 1 thing that young folks often misunderstand is that they use money as a scoring system for the desirability of the job, which is understandable when you graduate with $200,000 in college loans.

But the fact is that you’re going to do much better financially if you find a job where you love what you’re doing, even if you have to create the job yourself.

The second thing I tell them is you need to start learning. They haven’t learned anything. Most new graduates think they’re ready for their career, and they’re not. They need to start with a clean sheet of paper. You need to start reading more, not less.

You’ve got all this stuff to learn, and by the way, you’ve got to learn it in a dozen fields, not just the one you’re working in, because it’s all about cross-pollination. It’s all about taking good ideas in other areas and bringing it into your area.

It’s all about adding value above your job description, not just doing the job. You’ve got to exceed that by a substantial margin if you really want to get ahead.

Other Good NYT Corner Office Interviews

Each week, Adam Bryant talks with top executives about leadership. Follow him on

http://www.twitter.com/nytcorneroffice

 

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