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Ben Horowitz on leadership and making unpopular decisions

This is from Ben Horowitz in a fantastic interview on building a successful culture in your organisation. Highly recommend.

If you make decisions that everybody likes all the time then those are the decisions they would have made without you, so you’re not actually adding any value. So almost by definition a lot of the most important decisions end up being ones that people don’t agree with and don’t like and are difficult, and cause people not to like you, at least for a while.

And the way I generally work with CEOs on this is… it’s very difficult, because there’s so much emotional, psychological force pushing them to make the wrong decision, the easy decision, the one that’s going to be the people pleasing decision. And a lot of it is just pointing out what’s going to happen, letting them make it, and then when the pain comes go, “You remember we talked about this. And this is what happens.”

And you have to go through making those mistakes to train yourself to… it’s kind of like running towards the darkness. There’s this pain and dark area where you know people aren’t going to like you, you know it’s gonna suck, maybe you have to fire someone, maybe you have to lay them off, maybe you have to make a very unpopular decision to cancel a project or whatever.

But if you run away from that – because you always know if you have to do it, you can sense it if you run a company – if you run away from it that’s when you really get a huge raging fire that will potentially burn down your company.

Ben Horowitz on The Tim Ferris Show #392

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