Mark Zuckerberg as you likely know, is a Harvard computer science dropout who founded Facebook, which is the world’s most popular social network. Mark Zuckerberg also has the distinction of being the world’s youngest billionaire, which he achieved in 2008 at the age of 24. He was named “Man of the Year” by Time magazine in 2010. As of November 2020, Zuckerberg’s net worth is $101.2 billion, making him the fourth richest person in the world and he is also the only person under 40 years of age in Forbes list of 20 richest people in the world. So, what can we learn from Mark Zuckerberg’s leadership?
Follow your passion
The most successful entrepreneurs and leaders always seem to share one key trait: They are passionate about what they do. Mark Zuckerberg is no different and has always been fascinated by building systems that connect people. His passion was always to make the world more open, sometimes radically so. If you look at Facebook’s mission statement, its core hasn’t changed since inception. Mark Zuckerberg has said:
“Find that thing you are super passionate about. A lot of the founding principles of Facebook are that if people have access to more information and are more connected, it will make the world better; people will have more understanding, more empathy. That’s the guiding principle for me. On hard days, I really just step back, and that’s the thing that keeps me going.”
Of course, passion on its own is not enough, but if you are passionate about something, you are not going to find it hard to put in the hours required to then make is successful. Mark Zuckerberg is passionate about using technology to connect people, but he has also put in the hard work to make his passion pay off. Having passion for something means that you don’t give up. It gives you energy to work through difficulties. Where some people see failure, a passionate entrepreneur or leader sees only a learning experience, and an opportunity to keep moving forward.
Have a clear purpose
The really great companies and teams have a clear sense of purpose at the root of all that they do. This applies whether they are hiring employees, trying to attract investors, or engaging with customers. That sense of being part of a bigger purpose breeds the sense of belonging and leads to employee and customer loyalty. Anyone can create a great product, but in order to achieve large scale success, you need to go beyond just the product and create a movement. Facebook isn’t just a social networking site, it is a critical part of staying on touch with friends and family from around the world, a place to bring people together and build communities, and a tool for sharing information. As Mark Zuckerberg himself said:
“At Facebook, we’re inspired by technologies that have revolutionized how people spread and consume information. We often talk about inventions like the printing press and the television-; by simply making communication more efficient, they led to a complete transformation of many important parts of society. They gave more people a voice. They encouraged progress. They changed the way society was organized. They brought us closer together.”
Without a clear purpose that you stand for, there is nothing to differentiate you from all of the others in your field. There are tens of thousands (probably millions) of different companies that make t-shirts for example, but there is a reason why you can only name a handful of them. They have a clear purpose and whether you realise it or not, you have bought in to it.
Hire good people and let them do their job
It is no surprise that the most innovative companies allow their employees the freedom to develop their interests and to take risks. Facebook has an interview process that only selects employees who are the right fit for the company’s culture. Once they are in, they take part in intensive training that teaches them the “hacker way” of fast, creative coding that Facebook prizes. They are also allowed to work on the projects that they are most interested in vs. those that are assigned to them. Companies like Facebook, Apple and Zappos have created a culture that empowers courage of conviction, freedom of speech, and action. This comes from strong leadership that leads by example.
“I think as a company, if you can get those two things right–having a clear direction on what you are trying to do and bringing in great people who can execute on the stuff–then you can do pretty well.”
Many businesses struggle to hire for the right fit, because they are so focused on hiring someone with all of the relevant skills who can hit the ground running. Its no surprise Facebook have been so successful because they are focused on the right fit and take the view that they can train for skill. The best teams in the world hire for attitude and not skill and Mark Zuckerberg has shown that this can be done at scale.
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