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Being popular is easy, getting results is hard.

That's what I told a mid-level, up-and-coming manager recently. If you want to be a popular manager the formula is easy: tell folks they're awesome, give folks tasks they can easily accomplish, ignore their mistakes and give them any reward or perk they ask for.

Boom! You're a "great" manager.

You'll be off the scale in terms how you're rated as a manager.

When folks ask you 'Can I take off early on Friday?' and 'can I have two more weeks to get this project done?' just say "sure! you're an awesome, unique talent and we're luck to have you here at the company. Take as much time as you need for your project and leave right before lunch for Vegas."

That's the mid-level management 'popularity trap.'

What great managers do is:

a) accurately tell folks where they're at. i.e. 'as a writer you're somewhere between average and good. a 6.5 to 7 on the scale of writers.' or 'this writing is sh#$%t' or 'this is your worst performance ever.... you're damaging the company with this garbage' or 'I'll have to let you go if you produce garbage like this with our brand name on it.'

b) tell folks exactly how they can be much better. i.e. 'as an OK writer you're going to need to do much more research than a good or great writers, and you're going to need to throw away two out of three stories you write. It's only by throwing away the average stuff and waiting for the great stuff that you'll be perceived as great.'

c) Set really challenging goals and push people to reach them: 'you want to leave early on Friday when you're project is two weeks behind? I'd suggest you cancel any vacations and work six days a week for next three weeks and catch up. The company needs you to perform at a high level and you're currently in the bottom 1/3rd of performers at the company. Let's set some goals for you to be in the top 1/3rd.'

d) spend time with your team members discussing a, b and c over and over again

As a manager don't set your goals as being popular, set your goal at getting exceptional results.

Being popular will get you a short term boost, but in the long-term you won't be remembered as anything but an appeaser--if you're remembered at all.

Being unpopular in the short term, but getting awesome results will make you a legend to the world and your people.

Everyone who reads the Steve Jobs bio says the same thing: "what a jerk!!!"

Then they say something like "well, he got awesome results."

Then they say something like "what was the cost of getting those results?"

Then they realize that the best people in the world not only worked for Jobs, they STAYED with Jobs.

Truly talented people want driven, at times maniacal, manager who demands greatness.

That doesn't mean you should aspire to be an a-hole and jerk. It means if you have to have uncomfortable conversations with folks don't worry about it.

The really great people, the ones who were "abused" by Jobs for decades, never left! They talk about Steve like they do Edison or Jesus, and they are proud of the work they did together. They don't care if he said 'this is sh@#$t' because more often then not he was right. And when he was wrong it at least set the tone that people should evaluate their performance brutally and honestly.

Great people remember--and want--one thing and on thing only: results.

It's the weak people you don't want working for you who will whine about you not giving them every little thing they want, or for not giving them a pass on their poor performance and suger-coated cajoling to ge them to perform.

The lesson of Jobs is that brutal honesty, some uncomfortable moments and perhaps even unrealistic goals is the clear path to greatness.
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didn't edit this... let me know if there are any typos. :-)
Opinion Piece. -- With all due respect Mr Calacanis, it's better to be loved, than hated.
Forcing employees to work six days a week will only do good short-term IMHO. In the long term it will kill their morale, they'll burn out and make other people feel unhappy too.
Tearing your employees down when they don't perform only works over the long term if you build them up when they do succeed. You have to do both.
If you talk to those who served in WWII with great and hard generals and commanders they have the same story.

I wonder what would happen to the average of Me Generation hipster under the leadership of say Patton, who actually marched with his own troop on foot rather than ride in a jeep, would they survive?
Results bring love of their own. I'd rather deliver results to my investors when there's a line at the unemployment office filled with people who want things other than results.
+Grzegorz Kędzierski forcing? I agree. The secret is to hire folks who love their work so much they work 50, 60 or 70 hours a week because it's so meaningful to them. I've worked 50-80+ hours a week my whole life because I only work on projects I love! The +LAUNCH Festival took 7 days a week for six weeks.... and i loved it. My team was in the office for six days a week for two months and they loved it. Because we love putting on an amazing show and helping the startups like SpaceMonkey and AllTuition. if they didn't love it, I couldn't 'make' them do anything... employment in the USA is double opt-in. both parties have to WANT IT!
That's super if you work somewhere that does really exciting projects. The results are instant motivators. But in the typical office environment the projects are often about as exciting as mucking out a stable.

Sure, there's satisfaction in doing your job well but it's a lot tougher to motivate someone whose results are a report that gets kicked up the chain of command and never seen or heard of again. Not everyone has the luxury of picking and choosing only what they love.
Great managers also have some more great secrets: ie. they try to have a larger window in their view. they take responsibility for their mistakes. They are leaders, getting sleeves up to give the example. and then they can be fair with their team. Also, managers should not expect from others to be working as many hours as they themselves do. If it was like this, they would also be managers :)
+Jason Calacanis I can agree with that - the point is to create a working environment that people would want to work 50, 60, 70+ hours in. Also you need people willing to do it. Probably it's much easier in US and especially Silicon Valley than in Europe as you have different business culture.
Anyway, telling employee to cancel their vacation? Sure morale killer for me. Remember that you're an entrepreneur, you can put everything at risk but they're just employees - it's just their job, they have their own lives too.
+Grzegorz Kędzierski in my example I'm saying skip your vacation or trip because you're in the bottom half of your peers... because you're products late. There are many folks out there who care more about their vacations than they do their performance. That's sad to me.... you should think about vacations and trips after you've crushed it! after you've made a name for yourself! Too many folks want rewards in order to perform.... when they should perform because that's the reward.
also +Grzegorz Kędzierski, Europe is screwed because so many folks wants to retire at 56, take three month vacation, get hand outs and not build world-class, game changing products. Who are the game changers in Europe outside of luxury an travel products?
Excellent post. Couldn't agree more. From being managed to being a manager/owner results are always key.
+Jason Calacanis Game Changes in Europe...? Mærsk container shipping (Denmark) - biggest in the world. Nokia... although on the retreat. The banks in London? Skype (originally)? Rovio (Angry Birds).

But, apart from that I agree. Too many people just want to go to work at 9.00 and go home at 17.00, and not think anymore about where the money (customers) comes from. Long vacations, and lots of perks.
+Jason Calacanis I think you mentioned a big problem - difference between Europe and US (not to mention Asia). People want to work 40 hours a week (or even less in some countries) and just get a decent pension when they retire but it's not only their fault - they get screwed by the companies, get poor salaries, poor bonus schemes. And they rarely have opportunity to work on really exciting (and game changing) stuff. Also maybe it's some kind of tradition and history related thing that family comes first and work second.

I agree that innovation center of the world is now in US but I wouldn't say that there were no game changers from Europe - Skype, Spotify, Soundcloud to mention only a few - maybe not Google or Facebook but really big companies anyway. (but the fact is they're mostly backed by US venture capital...)

Regarding vacation - maybe it would make sense not to hire that kind of people in the first place and just replace underperformers? If tried motivating them your way they would instantly hate me and would make others (better employees) hate me too.
In my opinion it's all about moderation.
I think if you reward bad behavior you as a manager are not going to last very long.Work is Work no matter how you dress it you still have a job to do for your wage so a fair wage for a fair day of work!
+Jason Calacanis (and supporters), please read

A small quote: "One hundred fifty years of research proves that shorter work hours actually raise productivity and profits -- and overtime destroys them."

If your performance at work is the most important thing in your life--or at least more important than living it for yourself (i.e., on vacation)--then I feel sorry for you.

Also, you consistently misspell "your." Oh, the humanity.
I read that article and immediately thought of +Jason Calacanis as being one of the greatest proponents of longer work hours. Jason, if working your company and yourself longer hours is getting results then go for it but given the research quoted above have you actually measured it? If you can gain a competitive advantage by doing something counter intuitive then why not try it?
Europe.. Europe... Europe ... What Europe is going to feel is how close to null their efforts will be, if one nice morning the "markets" fuck up their so called European Monetary System.
They (we) need to start watching the numbers and not just being nice to each other.

We in Greece have felt that already, nicely :(

We used to work at least 10-11 hours everyday (people wrongly think we are lazy though), we used to have great engineers, great ideas , a lot of energy ... but also we tolerated a lousy political system and a worst legal / law enforcement one.
So we end up messing our nation so much and we became a menace to Europe.
Where did all these end up ?
Young people are getting away from Greece to work abroad for a new dream. People staying behind, will try to restart the economy, cure the old illnesses and make Greece a better place. But this will take time.

What I mean by all the above is that really, results are hard and everyone must be telling himself the truth.

Just being nice doesn't get you anywhere near the truth and that is going to cost you when everyone knows you are a weak link.

So, Europe needs to wake up and look why they (we) are so soft ... If we were to be living some 1000 years in the past, we would all be dead by now. This is the price they used to pay for being soft in the past ... And it still is, but death is not only physical. It is economic and psychological.

All the best .
Great operational insights Jason. I'm not a Job's fanboy, but reading his biography has influenced my thinking on leading for greatness vs managing mediocrity. I think the important point is that everyone knows what they are signing up for. It doesn't mean you have to/get to insult or abuse them, just push for the results that will win.
+Sotiris Karagiannis Greek problem isn't in European Monetary System but that's a point for a completely different discussion.

Neither it's a reason for lack of innovation and no "huge things" and game changers in Europe. Obsessive fear of failure is. Americans don't have it in their genes. Who sailed thousands of miles to unexplored continent and then thousands of miles on their horses to the west coast? Europe is very conservative and it's in our way of thinking. And in ways we do business too, unfortunately. And if you want to do something big, you need to take (sometimes very big) risks.
Innovation without execution stays as an idea in a drawer. I completely agree with +Grzegorz Kędzierski about the European FEAR. VCs in Europe are conservative, compared to their fellow Americans. The European culture of failure is completely different. So is the startup one. I hope it changes fast.
And by the way, the Greek problem is really not in the EU monetary system.
Agree. The problem is in Greece first of all. But a big failure will now teach us (hopefully) and the next round will be really making history again. I just hope that everyone in Europe also gets a lesson of how close things can be to failure and fix the bugs :)
Double opt-in? Great analogy. Thanks for the thought fodder.
Now read the whole thing again and instead of the word manager put in the word teacher. With a few changes, it works. Great teachers are accurate in appraisals, set challenging goals, may not be as popular at first, inspire dedicated students, and get terrific results.
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