The 8 Different Types Of Company Leaders 

Over the last decade, we have landed in a place where we demand a different type of leader for the distinct phase of the business. 

Some are obvious, some are less so and there are clear categories these leadership types fall into. Here are the eight different types of leaders. 

  1. Founder 
  2. Traditional 
  3. BAU
  4. Turn around
  5. Pivot 
  6. Growth 
  7. Caretaker 
  8. Returning Founder 


The creator or adopted creator of the company, leads from the front and is often the owner or co-owner of the business. Typically runs the company until the maturity of hires smart leaders to complement them. 

Founders are often blinded by their status and can hinder the business without the right support network. 

Founders are often the ‘visionary leader’ and will serve a long term or until a large market shift and confidence is low within the business. 

Business Maturity: Start-Up 


A leader brought in or took over from a founder and helped to mature the business and develop the business operationally. A traditional leader will often long-serving leader who builds their leadership around them. A traditional leader is often brought into startups and scaleups in the maturity phase that requires rebalancing. 

Business Maturity: Maturing  


Brings a level head to the leadership role, often a high-level and extremely experienced leader who is brought in to create a status quo approach to the company and will expect sustainable growth to the business. This is can be a COO or CFO who is promoted or operated in a similar business and won’t rock the boat too much. A BAU leader often serves for three to five years and is considered the safest pair of hands. 

Business Maturity: Scale Up or Mature 

Turn Around 

This is arguably the toughest role when a company has stagnated and is brought in to turn the company around and start operating more positively. Often a turn around leader is brought in to clean ship, revitalise the company, streamline it or refresh the way the company operates from the top down. 

Turn Around leader is typically in the role for under three years and will go onto another business in the same shape. 

Business Maturity: Stagnated 


Specialist leader who is brought in to help the company repoint its product or services to survive or thrive. Often a pivot leader is a specialist who understands different landscapes and applies a new way of thinking and operating throughout the business. The Pivot leader often will reduce headcount or repoint headcount far faster than other leaders and the idea is to drive change from the front. The Pivot leader is often a shorter-lived role and can make or break a business, especially if they do not take into consideration existing company culture and how to repoint resources and explain the company strategy clearly. 

Business Maturity: Start Up or Scale Up


A leader who is brought in with a history of driving change within businesses, this leadership type is focused on the hyper-growth of the business they enter into and often has a lens to sell the company or drive an IPO (or in some specific scenarios a SPAC). A Growth Leader often will have to be focused on changing leadership around them and reshaping the middle management tier. 

Growth leadership is often a mid-term leadership role and can be exciting to the team if run correctly. 

Business Maturity: Stagnated 


An unofficial title for most, the caretaker leader is a company lead who will come in for a short period of time and re-focus the business. The caretaker is often an experienced operator internally or externally. Internal caretakers will be taking on a difficult job and often will be the final role within that business, an external caretaker coming in is a six to twelve-month role that will have clear goals often around hiring a new leader and helping the next leader imprint their incoming style. The caretaker can be a brilliant role for experienced operators however it can be a kiss of death for internal caretaker leaders whose next step will be to leave the business or be demoted back to where they were. 

Business Maturity: Stagnated 

Returning Founder 

When the company is struggling or needs to go back to how it was once operating a founder is brought back and drives focus or simplifies how the business operates. Examples of Returning Founders include Steve Jobs (Apple), Howard Schwartz (Starbucks) and Michael Dell (Dell Computers). They have all been brought back to gain control and push the company forward. 

Howard Schwartz is currently on his third term as CEO and is attempting to stabilise the Starbucks business which is a hybrid business between tech and retail. 

Business Maturity: Stagnated or Declining 

2022 Into 2023

In the near future, there will be a lot of change and demand for leadership change, particularly at the end of 2022 and into H1 of 2023 when many businesses understand the new landscape away from the height of the pandemic and the new way of operating in the hybrid work world.


10 Leadership Lessons To Take From All Or Nothing Arsenal 

Leadership lessons come in all shapes and sizes, we often overlook the parallels in business to many different industries. There are three we look to constantly. 

The first is the armed forces, we look to the army or navy for leadership lessons in the toughest environments. 

The second is often politics, rightly or wrongly we compare situations to previous life events or difficult calls political leaders take to drive countries or states forward. 

The third is sports and despite it not landing with non-sports fans they are many similarities we should take direction from. 

All or Nothing is a behind the scene’s sports documentary series on Amazon Prime Video. 

All or Nothing has gone behind the scenes in soccer (football) Brazil national team, Manchester City, Spurs and most recently Arsenal, other stand up docuseries include the NFL (American Football) with the Arizona Cardinals and LA Rams, in the NCAA (college football) with The Michigan Wolverines, with the most respected rugby team New Zealand and in the ice hockey league (NHL) with the Toronto Maple Leafs. 

The behind-the-scenes nature of the series highlights coaching sackings, player and coaches disagreements, players’ connections and the outside-of-the-game issues the clubs face. 

It highlights every area of strategy, company performance and company culture.

In the latest series with Arsenal, here are ten lessons you can take with or without watching it. 

Simple Messages Work Best – often goes unseen is how managers motivate their players and prep them before a game, in all or nothing it really shows how Arsenal manager boils his ideas down simply to help reasonable with the team and motivate them for the match ahead. Arsenal coaching staff place posters throughout their dressing room and rival dressing rooms (on away days) with unity and identity commonly appearing and being referenced by the head coach Arteta. These simple gestures often have a larger long-term impact and something many leaders overlook is the power of a poster to influence their business or their teams. 

Game Management and Tactics – Like all great leaders you have to set your team up for success, whether it is a big campaign or a tough quarter ahead. Arteta shows the players what he expects and how it down to them on the pitch throughout the school. He coaches every moment until the game and very often it is down to the team to respond in the match and own the change of the game, this is similar to how large products and projects go. 

Speak In The Language Your Team Knows Best – Arteta speaks six languages and speaks to his players in their native tongue when English isn’t as strong. This is a way many leaders can speak to their team in the most simple language or the words they speak and clearly understand. It is unusual to think you can speak many languages but using the words and sentiments they understand goes a long way and is something many leaders discount as important. Language and sentiment matter. 

Keep Coaching – Arsenal have a young squad, they have an average team under 25 and is a team that needs to grow together and gain more coaching than many others would in their position. A younger squad was a deliberate tactic deployed by the Arsenal management team, coach the players and adapt them to a style of play (tactical choice for department leads) to build into a successful team in two to three years while connecting with the fan base and introducing different players in the squad to the media. 

You Have To Build Personal Connections – Arsenal manager spots one of his players (who was new with the club) left back Nuno Tavares is quiet and doesn’t provide much feedback to the coaching staff. Often the environment might be right or the players might be introverted, Arteta and his staff single him out individually to try and get more from the player and understand his motivations. Nuno is Portuguese and this season has been sent out on loan to grow his confidence and to see how he fares in France.

Unfortunately, the loan system is not available to most companies however this is something we can do to help to develop our team members by offering them a chance to gain experience and get exposure to different maybe more testing environments with other companies or in other departments. 

Passion – There are many passionate personal stories delivered by the Arsenal head coach (Arteta) that brings the group together and Arteta does this through the docuseries with the players and often when answering questions. Passion is one of the leadership qualities many lacks, alongside storytelling. When you can merge the two together, especially with younger players you will shape a special company. 

A Great Story Works – “a great night” is a powerful story of the team coach meeting his wife and attempting to connect with his players with a story before an important game. Arsenal didn’t win the game but you can see how it brings the team closer together and you can feel something developing between the group.

A great story works, you don’t have to deliver this in person as shown when the head coach is working from home with Covid, but it does prove how important a message and a story work.  

No Me Before We – A star player / employee is not worth the disruption (brilliant jerk), the “star player” breaks trust a number of times and is eventually removed from the squad and then the football club. Often as business leaders, we wait too long or allow behaviours like this to continue too long, even at football clubs they need to speak to HR and lawyers. It is part of the modern world and a lesson to take forward. 

Build For The Long Term (Vision) – Mikel Arteta came under fire for poor performance and a large section of the fan base was not impressed calling for him to be sacked. With parallels to how CEOs come under fire publicly, you must stick to your long-term plan, reiterate your strategy and connect with your biggest critics. Arteta is deliberate in trying to connect his players with the fans and take the responsibility for the blip in form. 

Don’t Be Afraid To Experience In Public – A documentary is a scary thought, it is access behind the scenes and closed doors that will expose your biggest weakness and highlight the flaws within your business. The more positive side highlights the journey you are on, the bond between the teams and the importance of all of the staff and the impact they have from the youngest players to the oldest players.

This is not something you do in big organisations but a fly-on-the-wall documentary might be something that enables change within your business and with your leadership. The best way to improve is to watch yourself and learn from your mistakes. With the cost of technology and the ability to do more with less, is this time for you to consider something similar? Maybe. 

The choice now is which of the 10 lessons are you going to take forward and which are going to be in your leadership arsenal in weeks and months to come.

Essential Resources To Improve Your Leadership

12 Lessons From The “Trillion Dollar Coach” Bill Campbell​

Rethink The Leader – Manager – Coach – Mentor – Operator Dynamic

Fewer Managers, More Coaches & Mentors

10 Good 10 Bad Management Traits Exercise & Framework 

Taking Over From A Bad Manager

Manager Coaching Courses

hybrid office Leadership Strategy

Free AOP and LRP Resources 

A dedicated list of free AOP and LRP resources from Focus.

Site data is a great indicator of what is happening in the market and how management teams are operating. From the focus data, it is clear to see what phase many companies are operating at and what activities they are undertaking. 

It is clear many businesses are in long-range planning or revisiting their annual company-wide strategy. 

Below are the most popular and most useful free resources to help you with your AOP’s (annual operating plan) and LRP’s (long-range planning).

Resource Link
(Click below to jump to the free resource)
Use Case / Why To Use
Annual Playbook Template For Company-Wide SuccessA free template to use to create your one company-wide strategy
The Difference Between Mission, Vision, Strategy & TacticsThe explainer behind why you need to understand the difference between mission, vision, strategy and tactics (and why you should concentrate on the flow of information)
The Focus Corporate Speak Bingo CardThe corporate buzzwords we overuse (this is extremely popular for LRP and creates fun moments when LRP are notoriously tense)
The Lessons From “Why Coinbase Shut Down Woke Activism”Lessons from Coinbase’s deliberate move to remove external political factors and focus on work. Great to understand if you want a top-down company culture or flowing culture
Andy Jassy’s Masterpiece MemoAmazon CEO’s comms masterpiece, a framework of how to use written communications to your whole company. 
Should Companies Remove Chat Apps Like Teams And Slack?A resource to help you understand if you removing instant messengers and chat apps like Teams and Slack will drive positive change within your business and remove the busy badge of honour
Hybrid Work GuideA free detailed hybrid work guide, 35 pages of actionable tips and tricks to make hybrid work for your business
Decision DocumentHow to improve communication within your organisation with an asynchronous document explaining key decisions and how the decisions were made and importantly why. 
Rethink The Leader – Manager – Coach – Mentor – Operator DynamicAn exercise to understand the different dynamics and a way to rethink if you need more managers or actually need to look for more coaches and external mentors
Free Internal Get To Know Each Other Profile TemplateSomething all businesses struggle with is getting to know colleagues and ways to formalise getting to know each other. This template is popular for new and promoted managers 
How To Fix A Toxic CultureSays exactly what it does on the tin, a guide on how to fix toxic and bad company culture

If you are looking to receive the best frameworks and insights on leadership, company performance and company culture, sign up below:


What To Learn From Mikel Arteta’s Emotional Dressing Room Team Talk On All or Nothing Arsenal

Many starting out on their leadership journey fail to tell their story.

They fail to tell their why, the something that makes them unique, the problems they have faced and the problem they are facing together.

“Leaders lead” is often seen as an alpha phase often seen as a stoic phrase, however, what Mikel does here is far more important.

Arsenal Head Coach Mikel Arteta breaks down his passions, drivers, and an incredible story of when he was a child (in the video clip below).

His incredibly personal moment before the Norwich game (in which Arsenal lost the first three games of last season) was filmed as part of the fly-on-the-wall series All or Nothing screening on Amazon Prime Video from August 4th.

What to learn and use in your leadership journey:

  • Tell your story – open up inside of work and sprinkle in external factors that power you
  • Be Passionate – Passion often unites people, show your passions, and take the opportunity to provide a graph or draw a visual to show how it can change
  • Show Pride: Offer your proud moment. Or revisit a proud moment
  • You Are Responsible – Let the team know you are there for them and you are responsible for them. Build that trust and safety for the team to bounce back or thrive
  • Culture & Building Cultural MomentsGood culture is built on trust, show how you trust the team
  • Collective Messaging – Before you go for an extensive campaign or product launch, get everyone together and remind them of the end goal, and what they are striving for.
    • This will create a bond and ensure those who are goal driven are part of making the change.
    • For the team players, you are showing them how they are being part of this important objective.

Sports can be dismissed as a direct comparison to the business world, however, in this one clip of a team that was struggling and building their DNA and in the near future the difference between most businesses will be how leaders lead and how company culture is embraced.

Related Reading


The Lessons From “Why Coinbase Shut Down Woke Activism”

Read the latest Coinbase Cultural IssueOperation Revive COIN – Coinbase Top Down Culture Issues & What it will mean for the company and their employees.

Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong joined the recent Good Time Show, a dedicated podcast from some of the a16z team to discuss Coinbase, the mission they are on and the decade long journey of Coinbase in crypto and embracing a web3 future.

There was a ten-minute section (see below) of the podcast that is vital listening for any leader and leadership team that you can learn many lessons.

The Lessons To Take Away

It is important to note this podcast was recorded before Coinbase rescinded job offers by email and is now on a hiring freeze with the crypto space and macroeconomics being so uncertain. Watch the full vodcast here

Coinbase addressed cultural issues with a mission-driven approach in that infamous blog post.

The lesson: Being public with big internal decisions is important, owning the message and getting ahead of internal leaks has been an important step for many businesses to own some of the conversation(s) and be transparent, particularly when you are a listed company is going to help shape the future conversation and encourage those internal and external to support your leadership and buy into your company.

Tribal nature impacts businesses

The lesson: Many leaders are often blinded by what happens within their business and how tribes form.

The leaders are commonly disconnected from their departments, their teams and their people and miss understanding the tribal nature of their business and what impact internal influencers have.

Knowing tribes form, knowing how they are forming and being in a place to address these tribes is critical to leading the business and empowering those around you.

Dreading townhall and Q&A’s based on external factors.

The lesson: Business has changed, businesses and business leaders are expected to comment on larger items and have a stand, Coinbase decided to go against the grain and not comment until they engaged the right advisors. Even impacting how their people would view them and understand the company.

Often in modern-day business, external factors impact your company culture far more than ever before and you have to be prepared to address these, whether it is clearly calling out it is a factor or a factor you will not be discussing as a business, however difficult and negative impact it could be the short term.

Applying a supported risk benefit framework and engaged his team and most trusted external advisors

The lesson: The role of the CEO can be extremely lonely and can feel an impossible role, particularly in a crisis. Engaging your support network and your leadership team on big topics will be imperative to address big situations and pivotable moments for the company.

Pros and cons be a great exercise however it often is too biased whereas a risk/benefit framework helps to frame bigger issues and help to guide longer-term and the most critical decisions, providing you with the discussion points with the team.

What I Want Vs What The Company Wants

The lesson: Brian was brave referencing it was what he wanted versus what the people within the company wanted and didn’t want to change the business.

This is a tough call and something that shows vulnerability, the lesson to learn as a leader you have to make the right decision for the company and that decision may upset a larger percentage of the company. Ensure your decisions are right for the company, not just you.

Why the hard decision caused a month of hard decisions and losing top talent

The lesson: There was a hard period where they lost talent and people who wanted the company to be part of the bigger picture, however, this also brought in great new candidates who wanted to work at a work mission-driven company

Broader Lesson To Takeaway

It is important to note for any manager or leader appearing on any podcast can create many challenges, particularly when discussing sensitive topics or asking about well known public events. Podcasts with friends or connections are challenging, more open, you become more relaxed and you speak more openly than you may on other formats, particularly shorter TV, radio or magazine interviews.

On Podcasts be mindful of:

  • The language you use (like and whatever can be extremely dismissive language)
  • The references you make (and suggesting your experience and other companies better or worse, and is similar or the same as you rarely have enough information to back this)
  • The tone of your voice will be analysed internally and externally.

Leadership in 2022 is more challenging than ever before and learning lessons from high profile CEO’s like Brian Armstrong and big moments in their career are essential.

Below is an important follow-up read, the internal email shared (on their blog) following on from the original memo/blog post and addressing internal issues

Hi team,

I wanted to send you a follow up now that the deadline has passed for people opting in to the exit package.

I know there have been many difficult conversations happening to help clarify what our apolitical culture means in practice. It’s been great to see the whole team come together to reach understanding here, and support each other through it. It’s not easy to get through, but I think it will result in us having a stronger and more united team.

I also want to acknowledge that we could have done a better job bringing the Operating Group and managers along on this clarification of our culture so everyone was prepared before it went out to a wider group. Our practices will continue to evolve as we grow as a business, and we’ll work to do a better job on this in the future.

Many of you are probably curious about the outcome. I wanted to share that about 5% of employees (60) have decided to take the exit package. There are a handful of other conversations still ongoing, so the final number will likely be a bit higher. For those of you who have decided to move on, I want to thank you for your contributions to Coinbase and we wish you the very best. And for those of you who are opting in to the next chapter, I want to thank you for your trust and commitment to this mission. I’m excited to build the future with all of you.

I’ve heard a concern from some of you that this clarification would disproportionately impact our under-represented minority population at Coinbase. It was reassuring to see that people from under-represented groups at Coinbase have not taken the exit package in numbers disproportionate to the overall population. We’ll continue to keep a close eye on this to ensure we are building a diverse, inclusive environment where everyone feels they belong.

Finally, I saw a few misconceptions pop up in public responses. And I know many of you have had friends and family read various articles and send them your way. I thought I would take a minute to address a few of them.

Isn’t crypto inherently political?

Yes, we are ok being political about this one particular area because it relates to our mission.

Do employees have to pretend politics don’t exist?

No, we support each other through tough times and also have conversations about recent events like any team. We have just made a decision to not engage in broader activism as a company outside of our mission.

How will I know what counts as political?

We recognize it’s a blurry line, and ask that employees use good judgment. Our goal is not to look for violations, but rather to support employees in adapting to these clarified expectations.

Does Coinbase just stand for making a profit?

No, we stand for accomplishing the mission and for creating a great place to work. Growing revenue and profit is the only way we will be able to grow our team to build all the things that are needed to accomplish the mission. And we need an environment that is welcoming to everyone to attract and retain team members.

Hopefully these clarifications help clear up any remaining misunderstandings. To help create the same clarity for our external audience and prospective candidates, I’ll be posting this email to the Coinbase blog a bit later today. If you still have questions or would like to discuss further, I encourage you to reach out to your manager, HRBP, or me directly.

While having team members leave is never easy, I think we will emerge as a more aligned company from this. From time to time we need to rearticulate and clarify our cultural norms as we continue scaling. I’m excited to be moving forward as #OneCoinbase to pursue our vision of economic freedom for every person and business.

Thank you,

Watch the full vodcast

Learn From Other Leaders

Image source – Medium

Leaders Letter Newsletter Leadership

Leaders Letter 103 – The Fight Behind Closed Doors

Dear Leaders, this week I want to introduce you to a topic many “leaders” struggle to recognise or talk about, the fight behind closed doors and the impact it has. 

When you work with leadership teams, you encounter the same reactions:
(1) resistance,
(2) some admitting there are core issues, others denying any sign of issues
(3) you encounter the historic status games and
(4) baked in politics that you have to navigate quickly and as expertly as you can.

I call this the fight behind closed doors. 

These dynamics are complicated, you are often the person who has to get into the middle of the psychological fights, you have to force collaboration between those who are often competing and when required you have to be the adult (and leader in that space) and force these colleagues to hash it out. 

I have been in workshops where you can cut the tension with a knife, you have to force change the atmosphere with working sessions and have had to call out this bad behaviour to reduce this from recurring its ugly head again. 

The trick is to know some people either need to have a fight behind closed doors or just be adults and agree to disagree.  

The worst “execs” are those who unload a lot of the fight onto their team and actually reveal much of the battles from behind closed doors to their team and influence the team’s behaviour. 

Very often this actually negatively impacts their view of you and the leadership team. If the department leader moves on, these biases are often carried through from those internally promoted.   

The Unspoken Truth 

I say this often, a lot of department leads hate the senior leadership meetings, hate attending and hate being on the SMT’s and ELT’s.
These are battles, you waste a lot of emotional energy, these can feel like they steal away your time, these battles can get mentally bloody and leave scaring, and you spend more time defending your time, your team’s output and delivery than proactively working to improve the company. 

On many occasions department leads are not prepared and rarely trained for what it takes to navigate and operate in leadership meetings and are often misdirecting their energy away from getting work done or being an actual leader within the business. 

Many people do not like confrontation, many dislike conflict and often will actively choose not to take part. 

This is understandable but often this is hurting you and your business. 

  • Is it time for an official referee? – Yes 
  • Is it time to put your management subculture first? – Yes 
  • Is it time you revisit and agree on your leadership principles? – Yes  
  • Is it time to take face known issues between “leads” within your business? – Yes 
  • Is it time to remove the battle in the boardroom/zoom room? – Yes 

Ensuring some personality types need internal competition and battles is key to good management, ensuring it does not spill over and become a larger theme is essential. 

The fight behind closed doors happens in almost every business, numerous times a week, it is how you manage this as a business leader and how you attempt to address these outstanding issues to truly move the business forward. 

This week concentrate on taking the time to review how these fight behind closed doors are taking place, the impact it is having and whether some leaders need to step up or step out. 

Have a great week and remember conflict is a disagreement, a temporary clash (can be positive), and combat is an ongoing fight or battle (often negative). 

Danny Denhard

Essential Follow Up Reading

hybrid office Leadership

The Future of Work – Is The Forced Return To The Office (3+ Days Per Week) A Modern Day Loyalty Test? 

Apple’s three day return to the office recently came under scrutiny when their Machine Learning lead Ian Goodfellow announced he was leaving Apple stating
“I believe strongly that more flexibility would have been the best policy for my team.”

The question many are not asking is, is this part of the company’s strategy to add control back or is it a test to work out whether hybrid can work?
Or is this part of a company-wide strategy to add more guardrails (less chance of interviewing, harder to organise interviews etc) to control the great resignation from impacting their business?

Apple is a notorious company for keeping projects secret and it is well documented their internal secrecy around new projects. Brand and products are a huge competitive advantage for Apple.

Is this really the reason for Apple’s non-flexible stance? Unlikely. 

There is often an argument and firm belief that the best talent leaves first, especially in a market that is weighted towards candidates. 

To be clear, this is not the first or last example of talented individuals leaving however it is the first that publicly suggested working styles and returning to the office is the main factor. 

We will see many more high calibre individuals leave for the same reason, whether they are in the same position to make this statement we will have to see. 

Loyalty Doesn’t Work Both Ways?  

Is this today’s CEO loyalty test, is it suggesting to employees this is the way you show your loyalty to the company by working within the office environment? 

Most likely yes, however, only certain companies would be brave enough to try this approach, Apple, Google and very few others have the brand equity, stock options and base salary to do this. 

Especially in a market where Uber, Meta and other previous powerhouses have hiring freezes and only backfilling essentials. 

With high wages being paid by cash-rich companies and from the web3 space, we are seeing a systemic shift towards flexible work and companies that understands the demands of modern work. 

Many businesses are allowing managers to set their own working schedules with their teams and in some rare situations at individual basis, this always comes under scrutiny, however, with most large businesses setting the tone for other businesses who blindly copy, the one rule of returning to the office three days per week, is likely causing cracks and creating sub cultures within your business. 

Google’s it’s ok manifesto received huge support across LinkedIn in 2021, however, Google has been clear about the move back to the office and its continued investment into the likes of London Kings Cross is clear their long term future is in person first. 

Rename Home To Workplace

Right now the best thing any business can do is rename home to workplace, remove the conditioned work that happens in the office and remove the pandemic PTSD around forced work from home is the same as working from home in a more open work world. 

The questions many are not answering: 

  • Is three days the right amount?
  • Why do we need teams in the office? 
  • How do we adapt our office for hybrid working?
  • Does collaboration actually happen effectively in person? 
  • When most work is in real-time (in meetings) and over zoom is being in the office offering the best work experience? 
  • How do we improve our hybrid tools
  • What is the best possible hybrid work experience? 

The other issue many are encountering has allowed poor management practices like internal policing from bad and middle management. Proximity bias is slowly killing companies inside out.   

Think Differently: 

Digital First & Work From Anywhere Movement

Airbnb has been bold to suggest in the US you can work from anywhere and your salary won’t be affected, is this a PR play or does the Airbnb management team truly believe they learnt enough and listened to feedback to suggest this is the best way to keep talent happy and attract talent. 

The answer is both, it is a PR play and it is a move the management team back, so the winners are those who want flexibility and those who believe in their vision of the future of work. 

In a recent Forbes interview, CEO Brian Chesky suggested Airbnb had over 800000 visitors to the career pages. Airbnb famously went over and above in 2020 for the teams they had to lay off and opened up their careers hub to help their employees find new work.   

Slack’s digital first approach is winning over many, it centre’s around enabling a change of thinking around what identity is within a business and in person is the old way of working. 

Twilio announced they are approaching work as a remote first company, potentially this way you can improve the way people interact and consider working from different workplaces like “home” and other offices.

Slack’s parent company Salesforce is now listing job roles by timezone, not by location emphasising the importance of flexible approaches. 

Dropbox has redesigned its offices and rethinking what in-person work looks like is a good reminder of what smaller companies are doing to improve work and stay competitive. 

Easy Question: Simply ask your teams why they used to work from home in 2018/2019/early 2020? 

It is most likely they worked from home to get their heads down and get their work done. 

If you couldn’t make the office environment work before 2020, you will struggle to make the office work in 2022 and beyond. 

It is time to rethink, reshape and rebalance the office/work environments. 

Other ways to consider reshaping work are to: consider satellite offices, hiring workspaces based on the commute of your employees, hiring workspaces based on the projects they are working on and moving to asynchronous work versus real-time work. 

Will 4 Days Per Week Work Better?

In the next hotly debated topic will a move to four day work weeks help? Unlikely, however, smart companies like front have tested and rethought what 4 days per week might look like and why flexible Fridays at Front are working.

4 days per week only work if you can work in a new constraint and have rethought what work works like and what success looks like in 4 days, not 5. 

Consider, is it 40 hours of work per week you can rethink rather than working a set 4 day week (like Wednesday are non-work days), as logistically this will be a much harder shift in mentality. 

The Future Of Work Is…

It is clear the future of work has evolved past even the smartest business operators and past the way many conditioned leaders can envision the future. The future of work is what we make of it, so make it better, make it flexible and create environments where output is valued more than location and hours worked. 

Supporting Resources To Help Make Smarter Decisions 

The A-Z Of Leadership in 2022

The importance of DNA documents and agreed principles

5 smart ways to rethink the work week 

Will a strict return to the office help my team get back together?  

How to handle back to back meetings?

How to rethink perks in hybrid work?


A-Z Of Leadership In 2022

Leadership has never been so challenging and often it feels like you are fighting to understand what are the traits of the best leaders and leadership.

Here are the 26 leadership traits you want to have, work on and develop within your teams.

A – Attitude

How do you handle attitude and how your attitude is perceived within the business?

B – Balance

How much balance do you have and what work/life balance are you and your business offering?

C- Company Culture

How seriously are you taking, designing and improving the company culture within your business? Does the team know the principles that make up your company culture? If something goes wrong does your company culture bounce back or are fingers pointed by individuals?

D – Delegation

How do you delegate and how well are you supporting those you delegate to?

E – Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

How emotionally smart are you? How are you promoting EQ as well as IQ and how do you reward those who apply EQ to their management styles and throughout the business?

F – Formidable

How formidable are you and your business? Is this something you work on? How formidable can you be to influence your competitors?

G – Growth Mindset

Do you have a growth mindset? Are you ensuring there is personal and professional growth throughout your organisation? Do you encourage growth? 

H – Hybrid

How are you approaching hybrid work and enabling hybrid work to thrive within your business?

I – Intelligence

Do you show intelligence? Do you offer to share your intelligence and do you understand that IQ only works with EQ and PQ (political intelligence)?

J – Jobs To Be Done

Do you prioritise the right jobs to help your customers become successful? Do you understand how to build the right jobs to be done mindset?

K – Kind

Are you kind to those around you? Do you build out kindness and respect within your business?

L – Learning

Are you always learning? Do you consider how you learn from failure and teach from these moments?

M – Mental Strength

Do you have the right mental strength and allow those around you to demonstrate their mental toughness and their exercise their mental strength?

N – North Star

Do you know what makes your company ultimately successful? Have you set the right north star? Does the company have the right compass to be successful? Do you repeat the north star as often as possible? Does your strategy roll up to your north star?

O – Operational Excellence

Do you understand what operational excellence looks like? Can you explain what “excellent” looks like across your organisation and how are you teaching excellence daily?

P – Prioritisation

Are you prioritising the right work? Prioritising the right hiring? Prioritising the right spending? Ultimately are you creating focus?

Q – Quality Of Work

Do you know what good work looks like internally? Do you proactively reward high-quality work? Do you reward good quality work overwork just hitting deadlines?

R – Relationships

Are you building relationships across the business, vertical and ensuring you keep relationships strong?

S – Security

Are you offering security to your teams? Are you secure with your operations?

T – Trust

Do your team trust you? Do you show you trust your team? Do you ensure trust is earned and rewarded?

U – Unity

Is your business showing unity? Do you operate as one unit versus numerous teams within departments?

V – Vision

Do you have vision? Are you painting the right vision for your company to follow and believe in? When people lose their way, does your vision set them back on the right path?

W – Wellness

Are you putting your wellness and wellbeing first? Do you support mental wellness and have you put in the right support levels to ensure wellness is a priority?

X – X-Factor

Do you have the x-factor? Do your team(s) strive for the x-factor?

Y – Yare (Speed and agility)

Does your teamwork with yare? Do they know that speed and agility are vitally important alongside just hitting deadlines?

Z – Z-A Starting At The End

Can you start at the end and ensure you and the team lay out the steps to be successful? Ensuring you know what success is and the milestones to hit?

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Essential Reading

Need a glossary of some of these terms? The focus glossary will help

Company Culture Leadership

11 Common But Unspoken Hiring Mistakes 

In recent months, we have seen an increase in hiring mistakes.

Rushing to hire, rushing to counter offer and in many cases hiring the wrong candidate because there is no clear understanding of what you want, what you need and why you are hiring this role for long term success. 

Truth is, very few people are good at hiring for the long term success of their department.

Hiring has been a challenge for many, however, the question should be asked:

Are you setting yourself and your company up to fail with bad processes and bad practices?  

Here are 11 common but unspoken hiring mistakes many are making and it is setting you and your company up to fail. 

Being led by recruiters, not by hiring managers
– are you allowing recruiters to filter CV’s and profiles based solely on one conversation with the hiring manager? It’s important to build that trust and relationship between hiring managers and recruiters before allowing this process to happen.

Asking bad questions leads to bad answers 
– are you and your teams asking bad questions that only promote and accept bad answers? Have you reviewed your interview questions recently and given interview training?

Hiring those that interview the best vs hiring those who will do the best job  
– this has been happening for years, however, it has not been addressed and this is down to lack of time, lack of training and lack of awareness of how people interview vs how people work. Create more working environments vs more interview questions.

Not having a clear understanding of what you need from the role not from the candidate 
– I recently asked ten hiring managers what they are hiring for and their process and 8 of the 10 suggested they just copied and pasted another company’s job description and did not materially change for their workplace, they didn’t have time to consider the goals to make this role successful. The role and the job spec sets you up to succeed or fail. Consider what you need from the role not specifically from that idealistic candidate you have in your mind, consider the goals and the 12-month plan ahead, not just the job spec highlighting what you might want.

Hiring managers coming in too late in the process
–  many hiring processes remove the hiring manager from CV/resume reviews and LinkedIn profile reviews and then miss one to two rounds of interviews before interviewing the candidate directly, this means many hours of wastage and interviewing badly fitted candidates

Too many colleagues in the hiring process 
– hiring is an art form, hiring processes vary greatly, and many now opt to bring in colleagues and teams into rounds of interviews, very often there are too many colleagues involved in the hiring process and is extending the time scales. This is the hardest element to get right, however, ensuring the right colleagues are part of the process and provide good feedback is an essential balance.

Too many interview rounds, especially hybrid recruitment.
– are you hosting too many rounds of interviews? Can you hire in three rounds, not six or seven which is now a common number of rounds of interviews.
Have you learnt how to interview virtually effectively?  

Being too narrow on what a successful candidate looks like and in turn what will make them successful 
– unlike many businesses leads and department heads I believe being ultra-narrow and overly specific in what a successful candidate will look like actually hinders your hiring process and will impact your existing team and bias your hiring. Having an idea of what a successful candidate will look like is great however often when you interview someone and they lead the charge, you can feel empowered to change your view of what a successful candidate is.

Hiring for a team skill gap not for solving the existing and upcoming customer problems 
– there are many reasons why you are hiring; backfill, hiring to demand, hiring to grow your team or reshaping your department. What this is often missing is hiring for the future and most hiring is focused around the current skill gap in the team rather than the customer problems and helping to hire to fix these not just hiring for a digital specialist in your Marketing team as you don’t have an expert. Where some will have to and want headcount here is where freelancers, coaches and agencies can add a lot of value and you can then evolve your department based on customer problems for now and the future.

CV/resume hires, hiring based on brands people worked at. Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple etc
–  the repeated mistake many make is hiring from some of the largest companies in the world. Typically, some in the hope of hiring up (“hiring higher calibre”), some to bring the experience, others in hoping these hires can bring the perceived successful operational frameworks with them or in hope to bring the same level of performance to their own business.
The truth is these companies operate in magnitudes of £$/x’s and 0’s bigger than you and often have numerous others who perform the same role, so in your org, you will have one senior-level Ops lead, in Google they will have a series of Ops leads.
These hires rarely scale well and expect large teams and hiring is rarely an issue in larger businesses, in smaller businesses and startups this just isn’t an option. Operationally too, larger companies have much more status-driven games and long hierarchical battles, these politics will also come into your business and will impact the culture and subculture of your business.

Hiring for cultural fit when you are unaware of what cultural fit is at your company 
– the unspoken hiring mistake is suggesting you are hiring for cultural fit when you do not have a culture defined or understand what culture is within your business. Cultural fit is often referred to by mistake as skills or “observed” ability. These misunderstandings will cause numerous headaches when looking for the right fit or explaining what cultural fit is within your department (subculture) and cultural fit within the business. If a candidate asks what cultural fit you are looking for and you cannot answer it in one to two sentences, you likely do not have your culture defined or cultural fit written down, agreed upon and shared throughout your business.

Not having a clear view (roadmap) and a potential 3-year plan for the role
– the topic I speak on most with hiring when asked to support hiring mid to senior-level roles. Thinking through and supplying a career roadmap for this role is essential for all roles, particularly those looking to join you and who need to map out their career. Most outstanding mid to exec level candidates have a plan and a long term roadmap they are building on top of.

Very often long term success of the role is considered at numbers levels and then potentially job titles are considered, however, what the next two to three steps are and what the two up two across matrix is for this specific person. Yes, often this has to be considered when probation is based and you have an understanding of their performance, however, to give you a competitive advantage when you interview you should be interviewing for the next three steps for this role and within the business and evolving with each catch-up and 1:2:1.

Leaders Letter Newsletter Leadership

Leaders Letter 99 – Leader & Cheerleader 

Dear Leaders, this is the 99th leadership newsletter I have sent out. It’s been a pleasure landing in your inboxes each week 

It has been 99 consecutive letters helping you to fight the battles that come thick and fast at leaders every day. 

This week I am going to show you why cheerleading is the hidden pillar of leadership. 

I set myself on a quest in 2020 to speak to as many leaders as I could.

I actually do something similar every year, however, when we were in lockdowns and trying to navigate that evolving landscape I wanted to speak to leaders who were driving their company forward. 

I spoke to leaders from as many industries as possible, including; secondary education, the military, sport, FMCG, creators, finance and fintech and there were three themes that arose from the calls and zooms:
(1) leadership evolves every day
(2) know when to lead and know when to get out of the way
(3) communication is key – but it’s how you deliver the message that is so important to landing that vital message. 

When I checked in with a few of these leaders recently, I revisited the themes and a fresh theme bubbled up to the top: knowing when to be the leader and when to be the cheerleader. 

The role of the leader regularly changes, but the core principles are often the same. 

Many learnt throughout the last three years that being leader changes but what was required most recently was being ‘the cheerleader’. Cheerleading the strategy, cheerleading the culture, cheerleading teamwork, cheerleading great work, cheerleading the pending business pivot, cheerleading change when many were proactively feared change. 

The issue many leaders cited was when their middle management and their leadership team struggled to rally the teams or galvanise change, it was on them to step up and cheerlead not always just force leadership decisions and change. 

Are you cheerleading enough? Are you embracing the role of the cheerleader and the impact is has on your team? 

This week consider how you can embrace this pillar of leadership and cheerlead more to help drive positive change.


Danny Denhard

Are you interviewing? Here are the company culture interview questions to ask 

Here are the 7 leadership tips to win 

Struggling with the hybrid work shift? Read the hybrid work guide