Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they are never weakness. Brene Brown
I don’t like many things about Uber culture and certainly deleted the app a couple of times and, like many others, I was using Lyft lately as a reaction to many things that I certainly did not like about Uber corporate culture.
Nevertheless, I sincerely like and respect the attitude Dara Khosrowshahi (new Uber CEO)
started his job with this internal memo. I think that this memo is a fantastic lesson for being courageous and vulnerable at the same time.
I never met with Dara and just heard very little things about his previous role at Expedia, but I must say that I would love that he will be able to show corporate America, startups all over the world and wall street about the power of being humble and vulnerable as a fantastic management and business lesson.
As an investor and entrepreneur, many times you need to take hard decisions on a regular basis and confront tough meetings and conversations with your team, investors, and Board members.
These decisions could position you as a courageous leader but,
how can we be great and courageous leaders and vulnerable at the same time?
I was lucky to have amazing mentors during my career and was able to spend time with great leaders and more important admirable human beings. Each of these persons showed me their vulnerable side. They were not afraid telling me “I don’t know this or I’m not sure about that, or I’m scared to take this specific decision” They were clearly telling me that they were not perfect and that they make mistakes often and regularly.
Great leaders are courageous enough to be vulnerable, open and transparent. They expose their humanity in this way, and they are able to learn on a constructive dialog and be better persons, build better teams, companies, and products.
I have the privilege to spend my time working with super talented entrepreneurs building disruptive companies and fighting daily battles against old and bureaucratic competitors which are usually big old school companies that were successful for too long and forgot about how to keep the entrepreneurial and innovative culture alive. I also work with some of these big companies when they realize that it’s time to go back to the entrepreneurial culture and partner and innovate like startups and with startups. It’s fascinating to see how big companies can benefit from startups and vice versa. And, interesting enough, one of my key lessons in this process is trying to persuade both parts (entrepreneurs and corporate leaders) to be courageous and vulnerable. I know, it could sound cliché and cheesy but stay with me for a couple of minutes more, and I will elaborate on why I honestly think that this is critical in today’s business world.
Industries are changing like never before. The combination of many exponential technologies like AI, machine learning, AR, robotics, cloud computing, 5g, etc. are disrupting every single business and every single job. The pace of change is faster than ever. The way that we learn, access to unlimited information and globalization are creating new rules every day.
With this reality, who could be so arrogant and stupid NOT to be vulnerable?
Which leader could be credible in thinking that they could have all the right answers?
Which company or management team or customers could trust this sort of leadership?
I think that in today’s world, and particularly in the business world, leaders need a huge dose of humility and vulnerability more than ever before.
Big corporations could simply not afford the luxury to ignore startups because they are too small or not organized or a “young bunch of geeks without real world experience”.
We saw how Netflix showed Blockbuster that sometimes makes sense to rethink the business that you are in and we continue to experience similar examples in many industries and this is just the beginning.
On the other side, startups can’t ignore big corporations just because “they are big and they don’t get it” because smart leaders in many of these big companies learned those “Netflix vs. Blockbuster” lessons and they are paying attention. And these big companies usually have deep pockets, and resources, and they are global, and the list continues. But many times, startups and big corporations are arrogant, and they are not “courageous and vulnerable” to learn from each other and create smart partnerships.
I wrote about why I think that corporate venture capital make sense in the past and I also wrote my thoughts on why entrepreneurs are successful but I think that I forgot to mention that probably one of the most important aspects on any of these examples is related to being “courageous and vulnerable” If you don’t innovate fast and regularly in your company you are going to be out of business soon and if you are not “courageous and vulnerable” in your company you probably have a hard time learning from each other (corporate or entrepreneur) and this means that it’s probably a good idea making the effort and try to spread these concepts and skills inside your organization regardless the size and history in your business.
As I mentioned in the beginning, I honestly hope that Dara will be successful on his job since this will teach a great lesson to corporations and startups around the world. I will download the Uber app again and give it a new chance.
Originally published at www.marcogiberti.com