Loving the “How to Start a Startup” series by Sam Altman (co-founder of Y-combinator) so far! A free Stanford class on tech entrepreneurship, all online? Why not? Learning some great lessons every day.
However, one quote by Phil Libin (CEO of Evernote, a tool I LOVE):
“People have this vision of being the CEO of a company they started and being on top of the pyramid. Some people are motivated by that, but that’s not at all what it’s like.
What it’s really like: everyone else is your boss – all of your employees, customers, partners, users, media are your boss. I’ve never had more bosses and needed to account for more people today.
The life of most CEOs is reporting to everyone else, at least that’s what it feels like to me and most CEOs I know. If you want to exercise power and authority over people, join the military or go into politics. Don’t be an entrepreneur.”
I love this quote, it changed the way I look at senior level leadership. However, I do have one issue with the part about exercising power and authority in the military: I’ve only seen that once in my military career, and it didn’t turn out well. You can imagine how little respect you have for someone who only leads because of their rank or position.
I’ve worked for many military folks in my time, and while not all of them were exceptional leaders, they always set the example by leading through mutual respect. I’ve done the same for folks that worked for me.
The military isn’t all about hard-charging, cigar-chomping cowboys barking orders like in the movies (though I’m sure it exists here and there). It’s a highly-educated, professional organization of volunteers who expect and deserve leadership at all levels of the hierarchy. If you want to exercise authority and power over people like that, you don’t belong in today’s military.