A word from a CEO #36

We need to get in touch with reality

Hi everyone-

I first read Drucker’s “The Effective Executive” about 10 years ago.

It helped me understand that most executives do not live in reality.

And that we need to work to get in touch with reality.

He explains that business results happen outside the organization.

All the results are on the outside. The only business results, for instance, are produced by a customer who converts the costs and efforts of the business into revenues and profits through his willingness to exchange his purchasing power for the products or services of the business.

And therefore, the only reality is outside.

But we all live inside – we’re in the office, operating in meetings, slack, and email. We get a proxy for the outside reality as Drucker explains:

“What goes on outside is usually not even known firsthand. It is received through an organizational filter of reports, that is, in an already predigested and highly abstract form that imposes organizational criteria of relevance on the outside reality.”

“Unless he makes special efforts to gain direct access to outside reality, he will become increasingly inside-focused.”

The higher you go in an organization, the bigger this problem becomes.

At Drift we have a mantra about “carrying the water.” This means that leaders (even at the VP and C-level) are expected to get into the field, roll-up their sleeves, and gain direct access to that outside reality.

This mindset has been critical.

As a VP, I spend time demoing our products to prospects, doing customer interviews, helping our BDRs prospect, and getting into the weeds on customer issues.

I’ve seen it pay off in two huge ways:

  1. Understand reality = better decision making.
  2. The behavior pattern of “carrying the water” is a form of servant leadership.

It’s not easy to make this part of a culture, especially in a hypergrowth environment.

But when it takes hold, the impact is massive.

How do you keep in touch with the outside reality?

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