Sam Lambert, CEO of PlanetScale and previously VP of Engineering at GitHub, joins us to talk about building high-performance teams. We chatted about leading with influence, advocating for your team, creating delightful hiring experiences, knowing when to fire people and how to keep your software engineers close to your end-users to build great products.
One of the biggest takeaways from this episode is that you have to start with yourself if you want to build a high-performance team. So if you're looking for pointers on how to be a better leader for your team and for your company, this episode is for you!
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Get the full transcript here
I think what's interesting about the episode we're recording today is that we started from "what do high-performance teams look like?" And very quickly ended up on, "if you want to build a high-performance team, organization, culture, you need to start with yourself." And for every single one of us that looks different.
One thing I saw at Facebook that really I loved was that on your way in, - and I went in as a director and I went through their director interview processes, - they test really heavily that you can lead with influence and speaking. Leading with influence is something they talk about a lot in the interview processes because it means that you can go in and you can work with people, help find problems, and help them see their own problems, without having to play power games or without politics. To be influential, you need to be competent, you need to know what you're talking about, you need to be good-natured and have good intentions.
If you want to know who is a leader inside your organization, look for this: imagine you've got a ball sitting on a table and it's about to fall off. Two types of people. One person is going to catch that ball, stop it from hitting the floor, and then ask around "who's ball is this?" Another person is going to let the ball drop, hit the ground, and then they'll say, "yeah, I saw it falling, but I wasn't sure who was it was." You want the person who's going to catch the ball first and then figure out whose it was after.
You know, great people, people that you want to work with, you have to assume you work for them as much as they work for you. They can go anywhere they like. They can just migrate to other companies or other teams by the nature of them being fantastic. They have a ton of optionality. So you have to wake up every morning and think, how can I do better for these people? Are they being paid? Are they getting opportunities that they want? Are they feeling empowered?
One of the hardest things in the industry is finding real true, positive examples at the top or leadership positions of people who have been able to do these things because they themselves don't embody those actual traits. I can go on for days about this because everyone's read to all the same books, but not many people can live what it actually means to be a leader of an organization. Most people know. It's easy to know. It's not easy to be.
People are terrible at advocating for themselves when it comes to their own packages and what they offer. So my goal, when I put a comp package in front of someone, is that it exceeds everything they would expect and it delights them. And I believe every moment of the hiring process should be delightful. They have to have the mission, they need to know they're waking up every morning with purpose, but when it's all said and done, it should be a very financially significant decision for the person coming to the company