Book Summary: Trillion Dollar Coach – Bill Campbell

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Learning the secrets of acquiring respect and how to function as a good manager, the Trillion Dollar Coach, AKA the leadership playbook of Silicon Valley offers insights which are applicable for those who want to become a better leader.

Based on interviews with over eighty people, this book explains the principles and illustrates them with stories from the many great people and companies. Resulting in a blueprint for forward-thinking business leaders and managers to create higher performing and faster moving cultures, teams and companies.

Key takeaways:

  1. Your title makes you a manager, your people make you a leader. To be a good leader, you need to first be an excellent manager by accruing respect and not demanding it.
  2. It’s the people. The top priority of any manager is the well-being and success of his/her people.
  3. Start with trip reports. To build rapport and better relationships amongst team members, start team meeting with personal or non-business related topics.
  4. 5 words on a whiteboard. Have a structure for one-on-one’s and take the time to prepare for them, as they are the best way to help people be more productive and to grow.
  5. The best idea, not consensus. A manager’s job is to run a decision-making process that ensures that all perspectives get heard and considered. If necessary, to break ties and make a decision.
  6. Lead-based on first principles. Defining the “first principles” for the situation, the unchangeable truths that are the foundation for the company or product, and help guide the decision from those principles.
  7. Manage the Aberrant Genius. “Aberrant Geniuses” are high performing but difficult team members, should be tolerated and even protected as long as their behaviour isn’t unethical or abusive and when their value provided outweighs the toll their behaviour takes on management, colleagues and teams.
  8. Money’s not just about the money. Compensating people well demonstrates love and respect which ties them strongly to the goals of the company.
  9. Innovation is where 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 the product.
  10. Build an envelope of trust. Listen attentively, practice complete frankness and be an evangelist for courage by believing in people more than they believe in themselves.
  11. Only coach the coachable. Traits that make an individual coachable include honesty, humility, willingness to persevere, hard working and a constant openness to learning.
  12. Practice free-form listening. Listen to people with your full and undivided attention without constantly thinking ahead to what you’re going to say next. Instead, ask questions to get to the real issue.
  13. No gaps between statements and fact. Be relentlessly honest and candid, couple negative with caring feedback. Give feedback as soon as possible and if the feedback is negative, deliver it privately.
  14. Don’t stick it in their ear. Don’t tell people what to do, instead offer stories and help guide them to the best decisions for them.
  15. Full identity front and centre. People are most effective when they can be completely themselves and bring their full identity to work.
  16. Team first. The team is of utmost importance, the most important thing to look for in people is a team-first attitude.
  17. Work the team, then the problem. When faced with a problem or an opportunity, the first step is to ensure the right team is in place and working on it.
  18. Pick the right players. The top characteristics to look for are smarts and hearts. E.g the ability to learn fast, a willingness to work hard, integrity, grit, empathy and a team-first attitude.
  19. Pair people. Peer relationships are critical and often overlooked, so seek opportunities to pair people up on projects or decisions.
  20. Get to the table. Winning often depends on having the best teams consisting of a mix of genders.
  21. Solve the biggest problem first. Identify the biggest issues, bringing it to the front and tackling it first.
  22. Don’t let the bitch sessions last. Air all negative issues, but don’t dwell on them. Learn to move on and move on as fast as possible.
  23. Winning right. Strive to win, but always win right with commitment, teamwork and integrity.
  24. Leaders lead. When the going gets tough, teams are often looking for even more loyalty, commitment and decisiveness from their leaders.
  25. Fill the gaps between people. Listen, observe and fill the communication and understanding gaps between people.
  26. It’s OK to love. People on your team are human beings by nature and the team becomes stronger when you break down the walls between the professional and human personas, embracing them with love.
  27. To care about people you have to care about people. Ask about their lives outside of work, understand their families and show up.
  28. Cheer demonstrably for people and their success. Don’t just sit there, stand up and show them the love for the work they are doing. Energize, motivate and inspire people to keep them moving.
  29. Always build community. Build communities inside and outside of work. A place is much stronger when individuals are connected.
  30. Help people. Be generous with your time, connections and other resources.
  31. Love the founders. Hold a special reverence for and protect the people who are the founders of the company, often these people are the ones with the most vision and passion for the company.
  32. Build relationships whenever you can. Be it when you’re in the elevator, passing someone in the hallway, or see your teammates in the cafeteria, take the time to stop and chat about their lives and share a little about yours.

Grab the book: Trillion Dollar Coach

What makes great companies great? It’s not solely the culture but also the people that help to build that culture. If you are currently a manager, leader or coach, I hope you have found this useful and applicable in your daily lives to become a better manager, leader or coach.





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