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How to be an Effective Executive

This post lists the key insights from this article, by the serial entrepreneur turned VC, Keith Rabois.


Here is the presentation Keith made about how to be an effective executive and its summary below.

Running yourself

  • Lead, don’t manage: Be proactive rather than reactive. “Lead” your team as opposed to “manage” a situation.
  • Understand your output: Your output is how much your team gets done + how much neighboring teams get done divided by how many people are on your team. Only add someone if they bring up the ratio of output to people.
  • Focus on inputs: Spend time on judging your team’s inputs, i.e. the quality of ideas, not on whether you can move revenue 3x this quarter, i.e. outputs.
  • Spend time on high leverage activities: Do things that have the most impact. Preparing one thing that affects many, like all-hands and dashboards, or do one thing with a lot of impact on one person, like a performance review.
  • Optimize your most valuable resource, your time: Actively manage your calendar and audit it by categorizing how you spend your time. Is it on top priorities? Is it on high leverage activities? Show your team real examples of great calendars. Batch tasks. Focus on the limiting step.

Running your team

  • Gather information: Your job as an exec is to make the 4 right calls a year. Can’t do that without all the information so spend time gathering info. Get around filtering mechanisms by wandering the office.
  • Simplify the metrics and objectives: Find indicators as close to the inputs as possible. Make those and your team’s objectives as simple as clear as possible. Make sure the team understands the logical jump from achieving that objective to having a large impact.
  • Meetings and Decisions: 4 types of meetings, 1:1s, staff meetings, decision meetings, operating reviews. Clarify what type of meeting you are having. Make decisions by knowledge rather than position as much as possible and at as low of a level as possible.
  • Peak Performance: Identify whether it is motivation or capability hindering performance. Extend rope to junior people when the downside is low. Always increase their scope.
2 min​ read

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