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Why Every Productive Leader Should Apply Jeff Bezos’s Two-Pizza Rules To Their Team

Why Every Productive Leader Should Apply Jeff Bezos’s Two-Pizza Rules To Their Team

Pizza is one of my favorite foods and honestly speaking, who doesn’t love this yummy dish! Even when it comes to communication at workplace, I believe that everyone who aspires to be a productive leader should look into the famous two-pizza team rule.

Does it sound intriguing? Whether you have already heard about it or not, this rule is quite interesting and practical in today’s organizations.

What is the two-pizza team rule for productive leaders?

So, let’s get straight to the point. What is a two-pizza team rule?

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To put it very simply, this rule suggests that the number of people in a team should not exceed what two pizzas can feed! According to some experts, this number is 5, whereas others say it is 7. However, most agree on one thing. The number of people in a team should NOT exceed 10. Plainly put, it means the team members should be in single digit.

Wondering who came up with this unique idea? It was Jeff Bezos and who hasn’t heard of Jeff Bezos? He’s the founder and CEO of Amazon.com. Generally, when we want things to work well, it is said that communication should be increased. Jeff Bezos disagrees!

According to him, “communication is terrible!” There is a reason why he believes it. As team size increases, the quality of communication keeps deteriorating. This is particularly true in case of group meetings. In a larger meeting, people often do not speak up and fall to the tendency of group thinking. Contrary to this, in smaller groups, creative thinking flows and conversations between people are more productive.

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The relevance of two-pizza team rule in today’s organizations

Okay, so Jeff came up with the two-pizza team rule but how do we know that it really works? The biggest reason why we believe this, is the success of Amazon.com.

Furthermore, the two-pizza rule is now supported by ample research and evidence. The problems with larger teams have increasingly been pointed out by researchers and experts, leading us to believe that team size, in fact, should be small.

Researchers Bradley Staats, Katherine Milkman, and Craig R. Fox point out in their article “The team scaling fallacy: Underestimating the declining efficiency of larger teams” that when working in teams, there is a tendency “to increasingly underestimate task completion time as team size grows.”

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Obviously, when the team size grows, connections or links between team members increase. Due to this fact, the connections often become unmanageable. This problem was highlighted by J. Richard Hackman, who is an organizational psychologist and expert on team dynamics. As a productive leader, you want your communication channels to be clear and open all the time.

Another issue is that members in larger teams seem to be more stressed. When psychologist Jennifer Muelle conducted a study with people working in varying team sizes, she suggested that people experience “relational loss” as the team size grows. Due to the loss of closeness and bonding, people become more stressed in larger teams.

Applying the two-pizza rule to your company

Let’s say, we are impressed with the two-pizza rule now and want to apply it to our own company. What to do? How to go about it? Here are some simple, practical ways of doing it successfully.

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  • As the rule says, limit the number of people in a team. However, you might be wondering how to do it because of your organization’s structure or way of working. This can be done by forming sub-groups within larger groups. Sub-groups can be practically as effective as small groups and then they can interact within the larger group as and when required.
  • Plan some event when people can hang out together. Having smaller work teams or meetings surely does not mean that the employees in an organization shouldn’t socialize in larger gatherings sometimes. These events can foster organization culture and mutual values and can leave employees rejuvenated for further tasks.
  •  If the team is not coming up with enough creative ideas or productivity, you can try formalizing communication. You might wonder that this may lead to an increase in time wastage but trust us, sometimes formal communication, due to its lack of confusion, results in more organized work and great results.

Do apply the rules to your organization and share the results and your own tips with us.

Featured photo credit: by kevin dooley via flickr.com

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Last Updated on March 15, 2019

How to Be a Leader Who Is Inspiring and Influential

How to Be a Leader Who Is Inspiring and Influential

When I began managing people 15 years ago, I thought having a fancy title was synonymous with influence. Over time, I learned that power is conferred based on likeability, authenticity, courage, relationships and consistent behavior. When leaders cultivate these attributes, they earn power, which really means influence.

Understanding influence is essential to professional growth, and companies rise and fall based on the quality of their leadership.

In this article, we will look into the essentials of effective leadership and how to be a leader who is inspiring and influential.

What Makes a Leader Fail?

A host of factors influence a leader’s ability to succeed. To the extent that leaders fail to outline a compelling vision and strategy, they risk losing the trust and confidence of their teams. Employees want to know where a company is going and the strategy for how they will get there. Having this information enables employees to feel safe, and it allows them to see mistakes as part of the learning journey versus as fatal occurrences.

If employees and customers do not believe a company’s leadership is authentic and inspiring, they may disengage, or they may be less inclined to offer constructive criticism that can help a company innovate or help a leader improve.

And it is not just the leadership at the top that matters. Middle managers play a distinct role in guiding teams. Depending on the company’s size, employees may have more access to mid-level managers than they do members of the C-suite, meaning their supervisors and managers have greater influence on the employee and the customer experience.

What Is Effective Leadership?

Effective leadership is inspiring, and it is influential. Cultivating inspiring and influential leaders requires building relationships across the company.

Leaders must be connected to both the teams they lead as well as to their own colleagues and managers. This is key as titles do not make a person a leader, nor do they automatically confer influence. These are earned through trusting relationships. This explains why some leaders can get more out of their teams than others and why some leaders experience soaring profits and engagement while others sizzle out.

Eric Garton said in an April 25, 2017, Harvard Business Review article:[1]

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“… inspiring leaders are those who use their unique combination of strengths to motivate individuals and teams to take on bold missions – and hold them accountable for results. And they unlock higher performance through empowerment, not command and control.”

How to Be an Inspiring and Influential Leader

To be an inspiring and influential leader requires:

1. Courage

The late poet Maya Angelou once said,

“Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.”

Courage is required in the workplace when implementing new strategies, especially when they go against professional norms.

For instance, I heard Lisa TerKeurst, bestselling author and founder of Proverbs 31 Ministries, explain her decision to move away from her company’s magazine. While the organization had long had a magazine, she saw a future where it didn’t exist.

In order to make the switch, she risked angering her team members and customers. She took a chance, and what started out as a monthly newsletter, has grown into a multi-dimensional organization boasting half a million followers. Had Lisa not found the courage to change the direction of her organization, they undoubtedly would not have been able to experience such exponential growth.

It also takes courage to give and receive feedback. When leaders see employees who are not living into the company’s mission or who are engaging in behavior that may undermine their long-term success, one must risk temporary angst and speak candidly with the colleague in question.

Similarly, it takes courage to hear constructive criticism and try to change. In business, as in life, courage is necessary for being an inspiring and influential leader.

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2. A Commitment to Face Your Internal Demons.

If you feel great about yourself, enter a leadership position. You are likely to be triggered in ways you didn’t think possible. You are also likely to receive feedback that may leave you second-guessing yourself and your leadership skills.

The truth about leading others is that you get to a point where you realize that it is difficult to take people to places where you yourself haven’t gone.

To be an influential and inspiring leader, you have to face your own demons and vow to continually improve. Influential leaders take their personal evolution serious, and they invest in coaching, therapy and mindfulness to ensure that their personal struggles do not overshadow their professional development.

3. A Willingness to Accept Feedback

Inspiring and influential leaders are not afraid to accept feedback. In fact, they actively solicit it. They understand that everyone in their life has a lesson to teach them, and they are willing to accept it.

Inspirational leaders understand that feedback is neither good nor bad but rather an offering that is critical to growth. Even when it hurts or is an affront to the ego, influential leaders understand that feedback is critical to their ability to lead.

4. Likability

Some people will argue that leaders need not worry about being liked but should instead focus on being respected. I disagree. Both are important.

When team members like their boss and believe their boss likes them, they are more likely to go the extra mile to fulfill departmental or organizational goals. Likable leaders are moved to the front of the line when it comes to being influential.

Relatedly, when colleagues feel management dislikes them, they experience internal stress and can spend unnecessary time focusing on the source of their manager’s discontent versus the work they have been hired to do.

So, likability is important for both the leader and the people she leads.

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5. Vulnerability

Vulnerability is critical for being an inspiring leader. People want the truth. They admire leaders who can occasionally demonstrate vulnerability. It promotes deeper relationships and inspires trust.

When leaders can showcase vulnerability appropriately, they destroy the illusion that one must be perfect to be a leader. They also demonstrate that vulnerability is not a dirty word; they too can be vulnerable and ask for a helping hand when necessary.

6. Authenticity

Authenticity is about living up to one’s stated values in public and behind closed doors.

Influential leaders are authentic. They set to live out their values and use those values to guide their decisions. The interesting thing about leadership is that people are not looking for perfect leaders. They are, in part, looking for leaders who are authentic.

7. A True Understanding of Inspiration

Effective leaders are inspirational. They understand the power of words and deeds and use both strategically.

Inspiring leaders appropriately use stories and narratives to enable the teams around them to see common situations in an entirely new light.

Inspirational leaders also showcase grit and triumph while convincing the people around them that success and victory are attainable.

Finally, inspiring leaders encourage the teams they lead to tap into their own genius. They convince others that genius is not reserved for a select few but that most people have it in them.

As explained in the article True Leadership: What Separates a Leader from a Boss:

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“A leader creates visions and motivates team members to work together towards the same goal.”

8. An Ability to See the Humanity in Others

Inspiring and influential leaders see the humanity in others. Rather than treating their teams as mere tools to accomplish organizational goals, they believe the people around them are unique beings with inherent value.

This means knowing when to pause to address personal challenges and dispelling with the myth that the personal is separate from the professional.

9. A Passion for Continual Learning

Inspiring and influential leaders are committed to continual learning. They invest in their own development and take responsibility for their professional growth.

These leaders understand that like a college campus, the workplace is a laboratory for learning. They believe that they can learn from multiple generations in the workplace as well as from people from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Influential leaders proactively seek out opportunities for learning.

The Bottom Line

No one said leadership was easy, but it is also a joy. Influencing others to action and positively impacting the lives of others is a reward unto itself.

Since leadership abounds, there is an abundance of resources to help you grow into the type of leader who inspires and influences others.

More Resources About Effective Leadership

Featured photo credit: Markus Spiske via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Harvard Business Review: How to Be an Inspiring Leader

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