“A coach is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear, who has you see what you don’t want to see, so you can be who you have always known you could be.” – Tom Landry

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Trillion Dollar Coach is a book about Bill Campbell, who was former CEO for Claris, Intuit, and GO Corporation. Bill was former Advertising Executive at J. Walter Thompson, football coach at Colombia University, and executive business coach for Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg and Sundar Pichai at Google, Susan Wojcicki at YouTube, Steve Jobs at Apple, Brad D. Smith at Intuit, Jeff Bezos at Amazon, John Donahoe at eBay, Marissa Mayer at Yahoo, Jack Dorsey and Dick Costolo at Twitter, and Sheryl Sandberg at Facebook.

Trillion Dollar Coach is the Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley’s Bill Campbell. The book reveals that to be a great manager, you have to be a great coach. After all, the higher you climb, the more your success depends on making other people successful. By definition, that’s what coaches do.

Based on interviews with over eighty people who knew and loved Bill Campbell, Trillion Dollar Coach explains the Coach’s principles and illustrates them with stories from the many great people and companies with which he worked. The result is a blueprint for forward-thinking business leaders and managers that will help them create higher performing and faster moving cultures, teams, and companies.

The Trillion Dollar Coach

Bill Campbell was a trillion dollar coach. In fact, a trillion dollars understates the value he created. He worked side by side with Steve Jobs to build Apple from near bankruptcy to a market capitalization of several hundred billion dollars. He worked side by side with Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Eric to build Google (now Alphabet) from a startup to a market capitalization that’s also several hundred billion dollars that’s well over a trillion dollars already, and doesn’t include the numerous other companies Bill advised.

By that measure, Bill was the greatest executive coach the world has ever seen. And not an executive coach in the traditional mold, working solely to maximize the performance of individuals; Bill coached teams.”

“Bill’s approach to coaching, both what he coached and how he coached it, was unique and incredibly—a trillion dollars!—successful. It is also something needed in today’s business world, when success lies in moving quickly and continually creating innovative new features, products, and services.”

Coaching

  • To balance the tension and mold a team into a community, you need a coach, someone who works not only with individuals but also with the team as a whole to smooth out the constant tension, continuously nurture the community, and make sure it is aligned around a common vision and set of goals. Sometimes this coach may just work with the team leader, the executive in charge. But to be most effective—and this was Bill’s model—the coach works with the entire team.
  • “It’s not possible or practical to hire a coach for every team in the company, nor is it the right answer, because the best coach for any team is the manager who leads that team. Being a good coach is essential to being a good manager and leader. Coaching is no longer a specialty; you cannot be a good manager without being a good coach. You need to, according to a 1994 study, go beyond the “traditional notion of managing that focuses on controlling, supervising, evaluating and rewarding/punishing” to create a climate of communication, respect, feedback, and trust. All through coaching.”

Your Title Makes You a Manager. Your People Make You a Leader.

Bill Campbell’s Leadership Playbook

Start with Trip Reports

Eric did one thing different from the norm, though: when everyone had come into the room and gotten settled, he’d start by asking what people did for the weekend, or, if they had just come back from a trip, he’d ask for an informal trip report.

The objectives were twofold. First, for team members to get to know each other as people, with families and interesting lives outside of work. And second, to get everyone involved in the meeting from the outset in a fun way, as Googlers and human beings, and not just as experts and owners of their particular roles.

Later in the meeting, when business decisions were being discussed, Eric wanted everyone to weigh in, regardless of whether the issue touched on their functional area or not. The simple communications practice—getting people to share stories, to be personal with each other—was in fact a tactic to ensure better decision making and camaraderie.

Decide – Disagree and Commit

  • Failure to make a decision can be as damaging as a wrong decision. There’s indecision in business all the time because there’s no perfect answer. Do something, even if it’s wrong, Bill counseled. Having a well-run process to get to a decision is just as important as the decision itself because it gives the team confidence and keeps everyone moving.

LEAD BASED ON FIRST PRINCIPLES

“In any situation there are certain immutable truths upon which everyone can agree. These are the “first principles a popular phrase and concept around Silicon Valley. Every company and every situation has its set of them. You can argue opinions, but you generally can’t argue principles, since everyone has already agreed upon them. As Bill would point out, it’s the leader’s job, when faced with a tough decision, to describe and remind everyone of those first principles. As a result, the decision often becomes much easier to make.”

MANAGE THE ABERRANT GENIUS

  • Support them as they continue to perform, and minimize time spent fighting them. Instead, invest that energy in trying as hard as possible to coach them past their aberrant behavior. As long as you can do this successfully, the rewards can be tremendous: more genius, less aberrant.
  • Never put up with people who cross ethical lines: lying, lapses of integrity or ethics, harassing or mistreating colleagues. In a way, these are the easier cases, since the decision is so clear-cut. The harder cases are the ones where the person doesn’t cross these lines. How do you determine when the damage a person causes exceeds their considerable contributions? There’s no perfect answer to this, but there are a few warning signs. All of these are coachable, but if there’s no change, they shouldn’t be tolerated.

Only Coach The Coachable

  • The traits that make a person coachable include honesty and humility, the willingness to persevere and work hard, and a constant openness to learning.

Coachability

  • The traits of coachability Bill sought were honesty and humility, the willingness to persevere and work hard, and a constant openness to learning. Honesty and humility because a successful coaching relationship requires a high degree of vulnerability, much more than is typical in a business relationship. Coaches need to learn how self-aware a coachee is; they need to not only understand the coachee’s strengths and weaknesses, but also understand how well the coachee understands his or her own strengths and weaknesses.

 To be coachable, you need to be brutally honest, starting with yourself. As Hennessy says, “People who generate a lot of BS aren’t coachable. They start to believe what they are saying. They shade the truth to conform to their BS, which makes the BS even more dangerous.

DON’T STICK IT IN THEIR EAR

Don’t tell people what to do; offer stories and help guide them to the best decisions for them.

  • You want to be supportive and demanding, holding high standards and expectations but giving the encouragement necessary to reach them. Basically, it’s tough love. Disagreeable givers are gruff and tough on the surface, but underneath they have others’ best interests at heart. They give the critical feedback no one wants to hear but everyone needs to hear.

Bill’s guiding principle was that the team is paramount, and the most important thing he looked for and expected in people was a “team-first” attitude.

Bill Campbell’s Playbook

5 WORDS ON A WHITEBOARD

Have a structure for 1:1s, and take the time to prepare for them, as they are the best way to help people be more effective and to grow.

THE THRONE BEHIND THE ROUND TABLE

The manager’s job is to run a decision-making process that ensures all perspectives get heard and considered, and, if necessary, to break ties and make the decision.

LEAD BASED ON FIRST PRINCIPLES

Define the “first principles” for the situation, the immutable truths that are the foundation for the company or product, ny or product, and help guide the decision from those principles.

MANAGE THE ABERRANT GENIUS

Aberrant geniuses—high-performing but difficult team members—should be tolerated and even protected, as long as their behavior isn’t unethical or abusive and their value outweighs the toll their behavior takes on management, colleagues, and teams.

MONEY’S NOT ABOUT MONEY

Compensating people well demonstrates love and respect and ties them strongly to the goals of the company.

INNOVATION IS WHERE THE CRAZY PEOPLE HAVE STATURE

The purpose of a company is to bring a product vision to life. All the other components are in service to product.

HEADS HELD HIGH

If you have to let people go, be generous, treat them well, and celebrate their accomplishments.

BILL ON BOARDS

It’s the ceo’s job to manage boards, not the other way around.

ONLY COACH THE COACHABLE

The traits that make a person coachable include honesty and humility, the willingness to persevere and work hard, and a constant openness to learning.

PRACTICE FREE-FORM LISTENING

Listen to people with your full and undivided attention—don’t think ahead to what you’re going to say next—and ask questions to get to the real issue.

NO GAP BETWEEN STATEMENTS AND FACT

Be relentlessly honest and candid, couple negative feedback with caring, give feedback as soon as possible, and if the feedback is negative, deliver it privately.

DON’T STICK IT IN THEIR EAR

Don’t tell people what to do; offer stories and help guide them to the best decisions for them.

BE THE EVANGELIST FOR COURAGE

Believe in people more than they believe in themselves, and push them to be more courageous.

FULL IDENTITY FRONT AND CENTER

People are most effective when they can be completely themselves and bring their full identity to work

WORK THE TEAM, THEN THE PROBLEM

When faced with a problem or opportunity, the first step is to ensure the right team is in place and working on it.

PICK THE RIGHT PLAYERS

The top characteristics to look for are smarts and hearts: the ability to learn fast, a willingness to work hard, integrity, grit, empathy, and a team-first attitude.

PAIR PEOPLE

Peer relationships are critical and often overlooked, so seek opportunities to pair people up on projects or decisions.

GET TO THE TABLE

Winning depends on having the best team, and the best teams have more women.

SOLVE THE BIGGEST PROBLEM

Identify the biggest problem, the “elephant in the room,” bring it front and center, and tackle it first.

WINNING RIGHT

Strive to win, but always win right, with commitment, teamwork, and integrity.

LEADERS LEAD

When things are going bad, teams are looking for even more loyalty, commitment, and decisiveness from their leaders

FILL THE GAPS BETWEEN PEOPLE

Listen, observe, and fill the communication and understanding gaps between people.

PERMISSION TO BE EMPATHETIC

Leading teams becomes a lot more joyful, and the teams more effective, when you know and care about the people.

THE LOVELY RESET

To care about people you have to care about people: ask about their lives outside of work, understand their families, and when things get rough, show up.

THE PERCUSSIVE CLAP

Cheer demonstrably for people and their successes.

ALWAYS BUILD COMMUNITIES

Build communities inside and outside of work. A place is much stronger when people are connected.

Helping people

Be generous with your time, connections, and other resources.

LOVE THE FOUNDERS

Hold a special reverence for—and protect—the people with the most vision and passion for the company.

THE ELEVATOR CHAT

Loving colleagues in the workplace may be challenging, so practice it until it becomes more natural.

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All the best in your quest to get better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.

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Lanre is a Digital Strategy Specialist with 8+ years experience in System Administration, Cloud Computing, and Digital Marketing. He is an avid reader, marathon runner(10+), lifelong learner, and loves blogging about self-improvement and personal re-invention. Contact E-mail: lanre.dahunsi@gmail.com

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