Derrek Young

Trillion Dollar Coach

Jan 13, 2020
3 minutes

“What keeps you up at night?”, he asked. “The well-being and success of my people.”

“Leadership is not about you, it’s about service to something bigger: the company, the team.”

– Bill Campbell

People first. To me, that sums up the imperative of leadership and is the main lesson I took from Trillion Dollar Coach. You can find more notes below, but great leaders don’t just get results; they invest in their people, value them and show it.

TDC came from some Google execs that immortalized their friend, leader and coach in this book. Here are my notes and thoughts from the book.

Product, People or Market… which one? I’d pick people, and it seems that Bill Campbell would agree.

In a great company, we all come together and are, in doing so, part of a team. But we’re there to achieve results for the business. But if the people are the most important part of the business, we have to make sure these people are part of a great team.

That means building a team of Doers. People who show up, work hard and have an impact every day. Hire people for ability to learn fast, a willingness to work hard, integrity, grit, empathy and a team-first attitude.

Great teams don’t just happen though. They have to be built with a combination of communication, feedback, trust, support and respect. This is where managers come in to help guide and shape this Team culture. Yes, anyone can be a “manager” in their own way, but formal Managers have the privilege and responsibility to guide and shape their teams in a way that an individual doesn’t have.

  • Communication: openness and transparency will go farther than secrecy and “ivory tower” decisions.
  • Feedback: help people know when they’re doing well and when they can improve.
  • Trust: freeing people to do their jobs and make good decisions.
  • Support: giving the tools, information, training and coaching they need.
  • Respect: understanding people’s unique career goals and being sensitive to their life choices, helping them achieve goals in a way that aligns with the needs of the company.

People don’t mind being managed so long as their manager was someone they could learn something from, and someone who helps make decisions. Managers help people be more effective, grow and develop. Great people flourish in an environment that liberates and amplifies that energy. Managers create this through support, respect and trust.

Compensation isn’t just about economic value; it’s about the emotional value. It’s a signaling device for recognition, respect, and status, and it ties people strongly to the goals of the company. Everyone is human and needs to be appreciated, including people who are financially secure.

But people have to be coachable too. This requires honesty and humility, a willingness to work hard, and constant openness to learning. Your part as a leader is to listen intently without distraction. Share stories and let your people draw the conclusions–don’t just offer your interpretation of the “right” answer.

The manager should be the last person to speak when looking to make a group decision. You want the whole team involved and to “get there” themselves.

Failure to make a decision can be as damaging as a wrong decision. Business has indecision because there’s no perfect answer. Do something, even if it’s wrong.

Make decisions with integrity, which means following a good process and always prioritizing what is the right thing for the business rather than any individual.