In a move many pundits saw coming, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick announced he’s taking a leave of unspecified length to grieve for his mother (victim of a recent boating accident), to focus on building a better leadership team, and to basically get his own s$!@ together.
Speculation has been rampant that the Uber board would force Kalanick’s hand to take a leave of absence in the wake of non-stop controversy rocking the company–everything from reports of harboring a despicable workplace culture to dubious business practices to droves of fired executives.
I’ll leave it to you to decide if Kalanick opportunistically used grief and a desire for personal betterment as a shield for what could have been a forced absence.
This article poses a different question.
First, here’s the entire announcement email from Kalanick: (obtained by Buzzfeed)
For the last eight years my life has always been about Uber. Recent events have brought home for me that people are more important than work, and that I need to take some time off of the day-to-day to grieve my mother, whom I buried on Friday, to reflect, to work on myself, and to focus on building out a world-class leadership team.
The ultimate responsibility, for where we’ve gotten and how we’ve gotten here rests on my shoulders. There is of course much to be proud of but there is much to improve. For Uber 2.0 to succeed there is nothing more important than dedicating my time to building out the leadership team. But if we are going to work on Uber 2.0, I also need to work on Travis 2.0 to become the leader that this company needs and that you deserve.
During this interim period, the leadership team, my directs, will be running the company. I will be available as needed for the most strategic decisions, but I will be empowering them to be bold and decisive in order to move the company forward swiftly.
It’s hard to put a timeline on this – it may be shorter or longer than we might expect. Tragically losing a loved one has been difficult for me and I need to properly say my goodbyes. The incredible outpouring of heartfelt notes and condolences from all of you have kept me strong but almost universally they have ended with ‘How can I help?’. My answer is simple. Do your life’s work in service to our mission. That gives me time with family. Put people first, that is my mom’s legacy. And make Uber 2.0 real so that the world can see the inspired work all of you do, and the inspiring people that make Uber great.
See you soon,
Now, back to that question.
What if you had to take a 6 month leave, starting tomorrow? What would be the one thing you’d work on before returning as You 2.0?
By no means am I suggesting you’ve had as much drama in your work life as Kalanick (I don’t think the other famous K–the Kardashians–have had as much drama for that matter).
But many of us have at least one nagging opportunity, one thing that if they could hit the reset button on, they would.
Here’s what research says are the most common things people would like to change about their leadership style. Find yourself in any of these?
1. I wish I would inspect less, empower more.
You can, and must. Psychology indicates that the number one leading indicator of happiness is whether or not someone can say they experience great autonomy in their life.
2. I wish I were more inspirational.
The holy grail of leadership. Here’s just one way to be more inspirational–help your employees become a better version of themselves, not a better version of you. Uncover the best traits in a person and help them blossom from that.
3. I wish I didn’t care so much what my bosses thought of me.
Full disclosure, this one is my bugaboo. This behavioral tick causes so much unnecessary and unhealthy angst. I’ve said this before in this column and I’ll say it again–chase authenticity, not approval.
4. I wish I could turn it off when I come home.
Okay, fine. Guilty as charged here, too. I’m working on this extra hard now that I work from home (having left corporate life 9 months ago).
Being there but not really being there fools absolutely no one.
5. I wish I celebrated great work/people more often, with more heart.
Research shows 60% of the most meaningful recognition is free.
6. I wish I were more decisive.
One idea–consider the risks/costs of not deciding. Read here for more assistance.
7. I wish I were more even-tempered.
Lashing out and/or harshly criticizing others often comes from our own insecurities or inability to manage our own anxieties or stress. Don’t be that guy/girl.
8. I wish I were better at managing up.
Here’s one tip–do it for all the right reasons.
It’s transparent and largely ineffective when you do it for personal reasons and much more effective when your efforts are goal or others-oriented.
9. I wish I wasn’t so afraid of failing/took more risk.
Again, just one tip. Believe that there are actually only 3 ways to fail: when you quit, don’t improve, or never try.
So maybe the board at your company isn’t showing you the door. But you can still think of a virtual leave of absence as a window of opportunity.
I see an Uber-You in the future.
That’s Uber, as in “ultimate.”
This article by Scott Mautz also appeared on Inc.com. To read more Inc. articles by Scott Mautz, click here.