Bill Campbell, the trillion dollar coach

Bill Campbell has long had a legendary reputation as one of the best coaches of all time, but until now, only the people he worked with got to understand and experience the power of his approach.

That’s why it is so great to see that Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg and Alan Eagle have written a book about Campbell’s leadership: Trillion Dollar Coach: The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley’s Bill Campbell.

There’s a ton of actionable advice and great examples in the book that will help any CEO and entrepreneur become a better leader. But there were two key things that stood out for me:

Great leaders show empathy

Bill’s biggest strength was the incredible empathy he had for the people he worked with. As a result, he was able to build very strong relationships built on trust and honesty. And this made it easier to deliver tough feedback when necessary.

Most of us are very task-oriented human beings and often don’t take the time to build deep enough relationships with the people we work with on a daily basis. It’s extremely important to make communication and personal relationships a priority on a daily basis.

For example, Bill always recommended starting weekly team meetings with trip reports. If somebody had just come back from a business trip, they were asked to give an informal report on what they had learned and seen. Or they discussed other personal, non-business topics instead of jumping into the agenda right away.

It is all about the team

Bill focused on making teams work together in the best and most efficient way. He always focused on working the team, not the problem: building teams, assessing people’s talents, finding the people that got stuff done, getting the people that caused tension off the bus – and bridging gaps when communication between team members broke down.

So while he coached individual people, he was always thinking about how to make the team around the individual stronger.

Trillion Dollar Coach is probably the most important leadership book for entrepreneurs to read since the Hard Thing about Hard Things by Ben Horowitz. That’s why we sent a copy to all of our portfolio CEO’s last week 🙂

P.S.: You can also listen to an interview of Eric Schmidt about the book on Tim Ferriss’ podcast:

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