Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Leadership Lessons From The Social Network: Effective Work Habits

The movie, The Social Network, is a powerful portrayal of how the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg and his team, started out with a dream and a $1000 start-up, to become the youngest billionaire in the world. At the point of writing, Facebook is valued to be worth at least $50 billion after the injection of capital from Goldman Sachs and Digital Sky Technologies. What is symbolic about these injection of funds from investment companies and banks shows the increasing might of Facebook, and her abilities to transform the social media scene as we know it.

There are also plenty of lessons that this movie can teach us about leadership and team management, and this article is the second part of three. Now, because there may be certain information in the movie that had been exaggerated to increase the excitement level, hence I would take all these information with a pinch of salt and relate most of the lessons learned, from the movie itself, and not from real life.

So in this article, I will share about some work habits that can help leaders reach their potential.

Know your resources around you. In the movie, Zuckerberg was able to assemble a group of people to help him achieve his goals. He first approached Eduardo Saverin, to invest in this company because Saverin had the financial capability at that point to do so. He then went about to task the people around him on their roles and responsibilities. He knew that he needed more people so that he can leverage on their capabilities, and he sought more employees. This is the hallmark of a business leader as he fully understood the power of leveraging. If he was just one person, he could only do X amount of work, and now that he has more team members, he could do more than just X amount of work. Essentially he knew the resources he had around him and set out to find a network of people who could help him reach his goals.

Once you know your available resources, the next priority would be to plan the composition of your team and leverage on them. Building of cross-functional teams in this aspect would help as you have a diversity of talents for your team to capitalize on.

Settle for a mediation when push comes to shove. In The Social Network, Zuckerberg was advised to settle both law suits through a settlement. The lawyer opined that the settlements, in the scheme of things may just be a speeding ticket. Indeed, when you are faced with an impending lawsuit, you confidently think that you have all the answers and solutions to the challenges posed by the other party. But the truth of the matter is that lawsuits, lawyers and the court are merciless. Even when you are under oath, the questions that the prosecutor fire at you will be fiery and intimidating. Everything that you stand for will be stripped as you are torn apart in the courts.

Don't fight every fire that comes along your way. When you learn to prioritize your challenges, you are building more time and chances for yourself so that you can last in the long run. And always remember to document your administration because one day it will save you.

Work Smart. In The Social Network, Saverin, Facebook's co-founder, was an intelligent financial analyst who profited from oil trading and stocks in school, and he was portrayed as not working smart enough on his assigned task. Instead of being open-minded to the possibilities of venture capitalists funding the company, he was fixated on using advertising as the only way to fund the company. He travelled daily on public transport such as trains so that he could reach his prospects. In the movie, you would be able to see how his ideas often get brushed aside by Zuckerberg, and these differences were some reasons that cause them both of them to drift apart. Zuckerberg on the other hand, was open-minded on VCs funding the company and he saw the possibilities of such leveraging. By working smart, and not hard, you are leveraging on this important element called time. And because time equals money, shouldn't you be ensuring that you make money by leveraging on time?

While sometimes the opportune time is important, the question would be, are you open-minded enough to accept such ideas?


Chew Mark, EzineArticles.com Basic PLUS Author

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