Leadership at Facebook tends to be service oriented. Managers and leads rarely see themselves as authority figures. Instead, they see themselves as responsible for ushering their group to success. They tend to influence rather than command. They tend to guide with principles rather than policies. This approach has served us well as we scale. It creates space for many people to take ownership over their work.
However there are instances when circumstances demand leadership be the focus. No matter how humbly we approach our positions, our teams are still deeply aware of our point of view. Demurring too much can leave people feeling disconnected from each other and from leadership. It isn’t always enough just to care; people have to see that you care.
Advocacy needs to be visible. The greatest value in advocacy comes when you tie your own reputation to that of a cause, team, or individual you believe in. You can do that behind closed doors but it won’t carry nearly the same weight as when you do it in plain view.
When I want to create a cultural shift I ask everyone to demonstrate visible leadership. I want them talking to their staff and setting expectations for them to do the same in turn.
People seeing action and investment is half the fix. (The other half is, you know, actually fixing things). If you spent your time fixing things but nobody saw the investment, they might believe things improved but still feel that you didn’t care. Both matter.
We all like it when our plans speak for themselves. But above a certain scale it just isn’t enough. We have to speak on their behalf. Conspicuous presence is what gives people confidence in a plan. It demonstrates that someone believes in it enough to be held accountable for it.