The hard thing is that hard things have no universal solution.
This book teaches management principles not from standard definitions but from real insightful experiences narrated from a CEO's point of view.
The author talks about several challenges he had to face (in specific situations) when running Opsware. Hiring an executive against the advice of the board of directors or rejecting acquisition offers that exceeded everyone else's expectations are two examples of the hard decisions Ben Horowitz made.
Takeaways and Paths of Action:
The following apply to individuals in a leadership position:
1. Give feedback, constantly:
If you are giving feedback all the time to everybody, it is more likely that they will take it as a regular practice rather than a personal attack. Keep in mind that your goal is to help the other person's job improve, not to prove your point.
You can also use the "shit sandwich" technique. Give a compliment on the good things, tell the hard truth, and then talk about another good thing.
You will likely receive feedback back, so learn to take it.
2. Act fast and break things (-Facebook):
To build the right product, you need to ship and sell the wrong product. You will fall in your face, but you will learn fast. Do whatever is required to survive. Go to action quickly.
This is hard to implement, but Dale Carnegie has some useful tips:
1. Write down all the alternatives and evaluate them.
2. Choose the one that is most likely to succeed or the fastest to execute.
3. Forget about all the other possibilities and execute!
Do not go back to the other alternatives unless you have completed the path of action you chose and have the results.
3. Communicate your decisions:
Do not make decisions in front of others. But, after you have made any decision, let the affected parties know as soon as possible. Help them to overcome the issues that may arise as a result of your decision.
Don't delay, and be clear on why you made the decision. Definitely, do not hide.
4. Train your team:
This is the most important lesson in this book. Bad leaders try to do all the tasks themselves. Don't be a bad leader.
Imagine there's a task on which you need to work for two hours every week. You may think that it is not worth spending time on training as that would be even more time-consuming. However, assume you spend 20 hours training five people to do this task. After one month, those five people would have worked 40 hours on that task. After one year, they'd have worked 480 hours; you, only 20.
Every year, or for every project, take some hours of your time to teach people the skills they need to know.
5. The law of crappy people:
The law of crappy people states that the members of a team are (consciously or unconsciously) conditioned to be as good as the crappiest of their superiors. This means that you need to make sure that everyone, including you, is performing to the right (highest) standards.
Implement performance reports. An easy way to evaluate performance is to give each person a number to grow or maintain. For example, the sales team can report the number of sales from each month or week.
Evaluations will tell you who's holding the team back, and you'll need to improve their performance or let them go.