Six Tips for Effective Leadership

Navin Chaddha, Venture Capitalist, Entrepreneur and Company Builder, Mayfield FundLeaders constantly reinvent and challenge themselves. As I approach 15 years as a venture investor, and ten years prior to that as an entrepreneur, here are some tips from leaders and thinkers who have inspired me.

• Vulnerability is a strength: Recently, I have gotten to know John Chambers, legendary former CEO of Cisco and author of “Connecting the Dots.” He tells the story of how he inadvertently disclosed that he was dyslexic because of an open mic, when he was consoling a young girl who was too nervous to ask him a question. Rather than being criticized for this disclosure, it helped him become a more empathetic leader, while still running one of the most valuable companies in the world. Lately, he is using this skill to help countries like India and France as well as states like West Virginia with their digital transformation.

• Unleash the power of introverts: Susan Cain’s TED talk has been viewed over 24 million times and her book “Quiet” has become the bible for leaders looking to engage all kinds of personalities in their organization. She quotes a study that found that introverted CEOs had a two percent higher return on assets than extroverted CEOs, although extroverted CEOs tend to get paid more. Introverted leaders are more likely to actually use the talents and ideas of proactive employees, they're more likely to solicit ideas, listen, and think about what everybody is contributing.

A book called “Reputation Rules” by Daniel Diermeier talks about four elements of a great reputation. The first is empathy, the second is transparency, next is expertise, and, then, commitment

We're losing a colossal amount of talent when we're not grooming introverts for leadership positions.

• Build your trust radar: A book called “Reputation Rules” by Daniel Diermeier talks about four elements of a great reputation. The first is empathy, the second is transparency, next is expertise, and then commitment. If you can pull off all four of those qualities as a leader, you can build and sustain a positive reputation.

• Run better meetings: There are 55 million meetings a day and most are badly run. The work of academics like Steven Rogelberg, author of “The Science of Successful Meetings,” harnesses science to help you grow into an intentional meeting leader. Some practices include engaging everyone in a meeting, not just those who are comfortable speaking up; remembering you are the host, so respecting attendees’ time and asking for feedback on the effectiveness of meetings you have led.

• Serve as a strategist, not a tactician: This is especially relevant to the modern CIO or IT leader at global companies. The CIO role was born as a tactical role, an order taking role—this is what I need, go automate this process that’s currently done manually. Peter High, author of “Building a World Class IT Strategy” discusses the concept of Getting to Nimble. He advises CIOs to transition from the legacy definition of their role to the future by recognizing the pathway forward. He advises them not to be daunted or wait for somebody else, but to run toward that and fill that gap.

• Build purpose-driven organizations: I’ve been inspired by Aria Finger and her team at She talks about how you can do well by doing good. Her three tips are: forget about the cause, choose something authentic to you, fight for the user, and focus on community.

I live by these rules and hope you will find them useful to become a more effective leader.