When I think about good leadership, often I think about big, bold leadership. People like Marissa Mayer or Elon Musk – big risk takers who make bold moves. Sure, they are inspiring and there is value in my business education to following them, but it’s hard to consider them role models. Aspiring to be “like Marissa Mayer” or “like Elan Musk” is not helpful to me on a daily basis.
Yesterday, I watched a very small activity that I’m not sure anyone else noticed, and it hit me hard that *this* is what good, everyday leadership looks like. Here’s what happened.
Our CTO was giving a technical talk, occurring in Cambridge with our Nashua team joining via Google Hangouts. We do this kind of broadcast bi-weekly for our engineering iteration meetings, and they are riddled with issues: bad audio, screens that don’t share, wifi problems, and any number of other similar problems.
I watched as our SVP of Engineering – an executive who has arguably one of the most important roles in executing our strategy – log in to the Hangout from Cambridge to see the version of the screen his team in Nashua is seeing. He had the CTO correct his screen sharing and camera a few times. Then I watched as he ran over to his desk and grabbed his headset to hear the audio as it was being heard in Nashua. He attended the entire talk this way.
It’s a minor thing, right? But it’s great leadership – it’s leadership that shows a complete lack of ego, and a desire to be inclusive to team members, and a commitment to getting done what has to get done.
The opportunities for these sorts of things are probably more likely in a startup where there isn’t really administrative support staff, and where everyone pitches in, but I also know of startups where the SVP of Engineering wouldn’t deign to do something so mundane.
My lesson of the day: good leadership isn’t only big, bold leadership.