1% Leadership: Master the Small, Daily Improvements that set Great Leaders Apart
“There is nothing comparable to advice from the trenches. Andy has been there, modeled it, and can communicate about it. I wish I had this book 20 years ago and am happy to have it now.” – Gadi Evron, CISO-in-Residence, Team8
A graduate of MIT and former US Air Force Officer, Andy Ellis is the former CSO of Akamai where he contributed to the creation of their billion-dollar cybersecurity business. Using his history of technology and army training, Ellis crafts this book with the knowledge he has built over the years to inform and inspire change in leadership styles.
This book engages the leadership skills Ellis honed throughout his career and understands there is not one leadership style that is more effective than another. Through this understanding, Ellis’ practical lessons in 1% Leadership aims to craft leadership skills in small increments, as a way of self-improvement but also for your business.
Lessons in this book include ‘to engage in the present, be of two minds about the future’ and ‘four days of great work now are rarely more important than four months of good work down the road,’ embedding the understanding that it is important to work hard but not at the detriment to yourself in the long term, and to look out for future you whilst also being flexible on how tomorrow will turn out.
Here is an extract from 1% Leadership: Master the Small, Daily Improvements that set Great Leaders Apart by Andy Ellis.
When I had a small team, all working from the same office, we’d regularly do team bonding activities together. One day, on a trip to the New England Aquarium, one of our team members picked up a stuffed penguin and asked her manager if she could expense it. Wisely, he didn’t answer yes or no, instead passing the buck: “If you can convince Finance, sure.”
She wrote him up as “Office Supplies,” and George the Penguin came to work, on the justification that he’d improve morale. His first mission was to visit the manager’s desk for a week, as a thank-you for approving the expense report. And then every week, she sent George to another colleague, to celebrate some achievement, no matter how small. After a while, she sent George to visit a colleague in another department, because they’d invested a little extra time and energy in doing the cleanup to finish a security project.
Over time, George visited many of our global offices, picking up body doubles to travel with some of our more visible staff, having his own Twitter and LinkedIn accounts, and colleagues would sometimes go the extra mile to try to get a visit from George. A one-time ten-dollar stuffed animal did more to encourage security improvements than we could have expected. George had built relationships with everyone he visited, and those relationships gave extra benefit to our team.
Rewards are transactions, gifts given for achieving some milestone. They have value, but that value doesn’t compound over time. The bonus you give an employee one year becomes expected the following year, so the net value starts to decrease. But recognition? Recognition builds relationships, and while relationships do need some ongoing investment, there isn’t as much of an expectation of specific recurring rewards.
Recognition can be challenging to implement at large scale, because, ultimately, it’s about the energy investment in the relationship. Recognition can be big, gaudy programs where recipients get honoured at the annual company all-hands meeting, although those awards risk leaving people left out, especially if the selection process is opaque. Recognition can also be small touches.
Cake is an easy structure for recognition
Did someone complete a major milestone on a CEO-visible project?
At the next project update meeting, we’d bring cake, and their whole team could come eat it with the CEO. The only extra time we spent was in procuring the cakes (which, given the dietary constraints of the people in the meeting, was a larger challenge than might have been expected); the meetings were already regularly scheduled. The added participants spent a little extra time, coming to a meeting where they heard C-level executives talk about the positive business impact of their work.
The goal is to engage your colleagues and make them want to work with you. It doesn’t require grand sweeping gestures; a steady investment in celebrating even small victories along the way builds the relationships for lasting engagement. The energy you invest in celebrating other people’s victories is a currency they’ll recognize and value. Over time, they may begin to ask exactly how much work they need to do to get the recognition and celebration.Buy Now