Leadership

Qualities of Companies I've Enjoyed Working At

LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner wrote a post about the qualities of people he most enjoyed working with. It got me thinking about companies I've worked at and the qualities that made them a fun place to work - here goes:


Act as a Team

Everyone in a company has coworkers, but not everyone has a team. Coworkers share office locations and email addresses, but teams share outcomes. As a team, you win or lose together. On a team, offense can’t claim a win and tally defense a loss. The scoreboard is the final arbiter and it measures everyone.

Teammates need your skills and follow-through, but they also need to know you value the team above all else. That you are willing to place your ego aside, let go of credit, and hustle when no one is looking.

Teams share the load — they are all in this together. They act as one — pitching in even if it’s not their “job”. If they see someone drowning they throw them a line, or if needed, swim out and drag them to shore. Many hands don't just lighten the load, they make it feel lighter as well.

This level of trust only comes over time through shared positive experience. As a friend once told me, you can’t microwave your reputation.

Does your product manager stay late to help out the sales rep for a strategic deal? Does your developer code through the weekend to fix a thorny customer issue? If sales can “win” and development can “lose”, you don't have a team — you have departments.


Default is Action
Having your voice heard at work is essential to feeling empowered, but it isn't enough. After all, why does it matter how much you speak up if nothing ever changes?

Without the ability to drive progress, to win in your corner of the world, resentment soon follows. As the person in the trenches, you have the best information and consequently tend to know better than anyone what should be done. Great companies trust their people to do what is right in service of what matters.

When people feel that even the most basic acts require approval, they defer decisions. They stop thinking. They kick up their heels, take a number, and place their brain in a jar. Permission is where passion goes to die.

Healthy companies embrace action at all levels. Authority is implied, change is expected and everyone is responsible for resultsSmart people prefer a compass to a map, and a steering wheel to a seat belt.


Driven By Mission
The best companies have a bigger mission than “shareholder value”. The purpose does not have to be as ambitious as building wells in Africa, but it should be personally meaningful to you as an employee. Here are some examples from mission driven companies:

Google
Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

Tesla
Accelerate the world’s transition to electric mobility.

LinkedIn
Connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.

To be effective, your mission must be shared. It represents the world you are trying to create — the organization just happens to be the vehicle chosen to manifest the transformation.

Your chosen destination should feel both important and urgent — it matters. Every day people have to live in the old world should feel like a tragedy.

You know you've got it right when you frequently base decisions on your north star. If you only hear about the company’s mission at the quarterly hands meetings, something is amiss.


Culture eats strategy for breakfast.
— Peter Drucker

Mission driven companies, who trust their people and whose people genuinely care for each other are the future. If you find all three in place, you'll find work becoming a place you want to go every day. In a word, it will be fun.