When it comes to building a company, your team is everything. Getting the right people involved at the right time is critical, but even more important is that you trust each other.
The movie Jobs, starring Ashton Kutcher, provides a fascinating look at the beginnings of the relationship between Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. The human aspect of business is an intriguing one, made more so by the fact that we have managed to leave our emotional side out of corporations for as long as we have. However, thanks to the widespread adoption of terms like Emotional Intelligence, or EQ, and the creation of cultural ideas like the B Corp movement, things are changing.
Here are a few examples of why, when it comes to building meaningful companies that change the world, people and trust are everything.
No one person can do everything
Let’s face it, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. And even if there were, why would you want to go it alone when the struggle and the triumph are so much richer when they are shared? Sharing the load enables each individual to focus not only on what they’re great at, but also on what they enjoy most. Would Steve Jobs’ skill set have been best used coding the programs for a Mac, for example? In order to be at peace with surrendering a portion of the deliverables, however, you need trust.
Great leaders hire up
One of the greatest assets a visionary can have is knowing who to hire. Look for people who know more than you do, so you can learn from them while they’re delivering what the company needs. You can also make some damn fine friendships in the process.
Leaders need to stay lofty
To have a clear understanding of where you’re going and to be able to communicate that concisely and effectively is essential. By hiring talented people and trusting them to deliver where you can’t, a company founder is free to focus on the high-level vision of the business and its long-term goals. Trusting others to handle the crucial day-to-day running of the business is the only way to focus on the holistic vision.
Customers are people, too!
This is a big one, especially in Australia. Businesses should place tremendous weight on the feedback they’re receiving from customers; whether good or bad, that feedback is gold for your business and its process. Take Airbnb’s ‘Belong Anywhere’ campaign – it’s not only driven by its product, but also by what’s being created by the customers. The whole notion is to visit somewhere you don’t live, and feel like you belong there. That has absolutely nothing to do with the Airbnb platform, or its business of taking a portion of apartment and home rentals. It has everything to do with what customers love about its product. Always trust the customer when they tell you they love or hate something.
Transparency is everything
Having a clear understanding of who’s great at what makes it simple to let go and focus on what you’re best at. Airbnb has a great hiring process that ensures the company culture and every new hire’s core values are aligned with their mission. Additionally the company uses a communication system it calls called ‘Elephants, Dead Fish and Vomit’.
“Elephants are the big things in the room that nobody is talking about,” says Mark Levy, Airbnb’s Global Head of Employee Experience. “Dead Fish are the things that happened a few years ago that people can’t get over; and Vomit is where people just need to get something off their mind and you need someone to just sit there and listen.”
Whatever your culture, an investment in trust should be at the forefront of your relationships, and is crucial for your business. If you don’t trust someone it’s usually for good reason… and that’s when change is likely necessary.