"New managers hire people that are like them because we as humans like to spend time with people who have the same characteristics as us. When your team starts to reflect you, you're in a lot of trouble, because then you just have a bunch of you's all making the same decisions."
In this episode
In episode #63, Kieran Flanagan shares the three categories of people that make up fast-growing companies, and which categories leaders fall into!
Kieran Flanagan is the Senior Vice President of Marketing at Hubspot – where he leads a team of over 160 marketers!
In this episode, Kieran shares why you’re in trouble if your team is a direct reflection of you and explains why you shouldn’t hire people that are just like you.
We also talk about team structures, owning goals, and how teams can merge skill sets to create pods.
Tune in for a great episode about team design and how it can be your number one growth lever.
Like this episode? Be sure to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review and share the podcast with your colleagues.
Management before HubSpot
Builders, Creators, and Operators
Don’t run meetings like a robot
Radical positive feedback
Removing yourself from the hiring process
Team design and owning goals
- Follow Kieran on Twitter
- Trillion Dollar Coach by Bill Campbell
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 00:00
Kieran, welcome to the show.
Kieran Flanagan (HubSpot) 00:15
Thanks for having me on Aydin, excited to be on!
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 01:57
Yeah, no, this is awesome. We were just talking. I was I think like maybe last year. So I was on your podcast. It feels it feels good to have you on the Supermanagers podcast. Yeah. the table’s turned. Yeah, no, this should be fun. So, Kieran, there’s a lot that we’re going to talk about today. You have had a pretty extensive leadership career. You’ve been at Salesforce, Marketo. Today, you’re the SVP of Marketing at HubSpot. But to kick things off, I just wanted to start by asking who has been a memorable manager that you’ve had in your career?
Kieran Flanagan (HubSpot) 03:29
Yeah, absolutely. I’ll give you kind of two answers to that. So the person who’s had the biggest impact on my career has been Kipp, who’s the CMO of HubSpot. I’m always actually who I work for matters as much as what the company is. And so partly why I’ve stayed at HubSpot so long, it’s because Kipp has been there. And so like he, he’s just world-class of what he does. I’ve learned a lot from him about how to be a great leader, the other person who had a real impact on my career in a different way was I came from a computer science background. And when I was doing software engineering, I realized that I was average at it and be hated it. And so I wanted to get into marketing. And I couldn’t get anyone to give me even give me an interview, like just to get me started even graduate roles. And I was like three years out of college then. And so I kind of found the biggest agency digital marketing agency in Ireland, it’s time I kind of went in there under the pretense that I was going to do an MBA in London, in marketing to try to make that career switch. I wasn’t going to do that because I didn’t want to study and didn’t have the money to do an MBA, but wanting to get a foot in the door to talk to someone. And so when I was in there, Rob Reed, for some reason, who owned the agency took the meeting. I was in there pitched him that I’m not here to talk about this MBA, I would love to try to get a job for you. And they just happened to be in interviewing for a role. And the final round for that interview was the next day and in the end, the candidates had all had a week to prepare a presentation. I had a night and rock said, Look if you can get a presentation done overnight, come back pitch yourself. We’ll let you in that final interview. And so that’s actually how I got my start in marketing. And if it wasn’t for Rob, I don’t know if I would be in marketing right now.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 05:25
Yeah, no, that’s, that’s awesome. And so, I guess, one was it that you first started leading a team yourself?
Yeah, like before HubSpot. I led very small teams, maybe two, four people. And I think we are, you know, lead in free for people, you’re kind of still somewhat of an individual contributor. So you’re kind of starting to learn about how to help other people’s careers. You’re kind of learning how to give feedback on their performance, do some of those conversations, but you’re also still somewhat of an individual contributor, doing your stuff still responsible for the work that you are doing? And so it wasn’t until I went to work for HubSpot that I started to kind of build in larger and bigger teams.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 06:06
Yeah. And how long have you been in HubSpot now?
Kieran Flanagan (HubSpot) 06:09
over eight years.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 06:10
Oh, wow. So it’s been a while?
Kieran Flanagan (HubSpot) 06:11
Yeah, like a tech company. It’s long and HubSpot. If you go into HubSpot, it’s kind of not that long, and HubSpot. It’s, it’s long, but it’s there’s people been there for a lot longer than me. All the kind of people that I work closely with and love working with at HubSpot are for the most part also there.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 06:28
So, I guess my question is who I mean, when you first started leading the team, I assumed that you may have made some mistakes. Do you remember some of those that you could share?
Kieran Flanagan (HubSpot) 06:38
Yeah, I still do think a lot of mistakes today. So you know, at HubSpot, I’ve built many different teams, because I’ve been lucky enough to be given kind of different projects. And so I went from building, you know, my first team to 20 people, then I built a team of 30. Then I went and kind of build a team and took on a team to 70. And today I lead over 160 people. And so the way I think about it is I kind of break people into three categories. And it helps me to think about when I’m going to build teams, and I’ll get into why this matters for the mistakes I made. So the three categories of people I see in any kind of fast-growing company are builders, builders love, they fall in love with the problem, they just love the problem, they want to solve that problem. We have creators and creators fall in love with the story, they want to be able to tell the story. That’s what gets them excited. And then you have operators and operators fall in love with the model. They love to align people, processes, systems, frameworks. And leaders are somewhat a blend of all three. But excel in one or two areas. Like I’m a builder who can be good at operator can be a good creator, but like I love building, I think operators generally make naturally make the best managers. And so I’m a builder, I love problems. And when I first started managing, and one of the common things I would do is just start all my meetings with Hey, like, how are we solving this problem? Where are we what are the metrics, give me the dashboard, because that’s the thing that I look through that lens when I think about any kind of problem. That’s kind of how I thought about my team, they are people who can help me solve that problem. And I got this 360 my first 360 review at HubSpot what wasn’t even sure the 360 review was because it was the first time I got one. And it allows you, your teammates, and colleagues to give feedback about you. And the thing that came across. And that feedback was people thought I was a robot-like Kieran comes in it goes, where is my metrics? Where are all the things you were helping me to do to solve the problems? And so that was really good feedback, and that you should care about your team, right, you should care about your team beyond what they can do for you. And I kind of brought that into the way that I managed were that I lead just become more personal get to know my team cares about people beyond the metrics. The other thing that I would kind of say for people is, I’ve always thought when I think about feedback, when you say, oh, let’s give him feedback. It’s really hard. We all naturally gravitate towards the can that means Oh, I’ve given tough feedback, given direct feedback, telling someone they’re not doing a good job being negative about that person that’s hard to do as a manager. What is harder is to give positive feedback. So this idea of radical candor, which likes how do you get, like direct feedback goes on for the opposite of that as well? How do you give radical positive feedback? That has been one of my core weaknesses because again, I’m a builder, I love problems. And so I always, spot problems. And so you could come to me, and you could do 99 things, right? And I would tell you how you could have done the other one thing better. And that’s what most builders do. And so I have to work hard to make sure that I am telling people that they are doing a great job and I appreciate them for that. And then the last thing I would tell people is your success as a leader is 100 dependent 100% dependent on the people that you hire. So when you first become a manager like oh, like that person, they’re cool. Yeah, I want to work with that person. You have to think way more about who you are. And it doesn’t matter if you are going to go for dinner for This person, maybe they’re not the person you’re going to spend and hang out, hang out with the bar, or go for dinner with. That’s not who you’re trying to hire. You’re trying to hire great people that you can rely on and do the things that you need them to do and be successful. And every great leader, the way that you determine how good they are at their job is like, Who are the people that they have hired? And by spending time with the people that they’ve hired, then you get to know how good the leader is. So they’re the three things that I think I learned when I was starting to build up teams that were very, very important.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 10:29
Yeah, I mean, those are some super great lessons. And I guess there’s a bunch of things that I want to unpack there. Let’s start with this, Don’t be a robot concept. So So what is a meeting look like that you run today?
Kieran Flanagan (HubSpot) 10:42
It’s just caring about the person. So like, I will talk to people about their weekends, I will ask them how they are doing. I will say like, how does the week go? and few? Is there anything I could do to be more supportive? How can I help you? How are you personally do as you’re like, are you doing okay? Especially given the past 16 months, like checking in on people and seeing if they are okay, really, really matters, like not going in there and starting, not starting the meeting with a report kind of started to just get to know that person wants to spend a little bit of time like talking about something different, like trying to gauge that and you just become more aware of that the more experience you get, I think every new manager that is that’s that is a learning experience to get to that point to know how to talk with the talk people like that get to know them like that. And then, you know, we have I mean, it’s like after that is very much dependent upon the meeting the objective, I think all meetings should actually have a clear, objective, we’re trying to ship a decision. But yeah, it’s that first part of the meeting, or just like any part of the meeting where you’re trying to care about the person and learn a little bit more about them.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 11:50
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And so let’s talk about the other thing, which you mentioned, which is the radical positive feedback. So I think you make it really good point here. This is something that I’ve certainly struggled with. So I guess I’ll start by asking, getting into the routine of giving positive feedback, often, is this something that you feel like you’ve now solved? Or is it still something that you’re working on? years later,
Kieran Flanagan (HubSpot) 12:16
I’m conscious, I’m at the point where like if you go through the spectrum of learning where you’re not consciously aware of something, and then at some point, you should we just unconsciously do that. I’m consciously aware of it, that this is a thing that I do that I can spot. And it’s also, you know, one of the things I realized when I was starting to manage teams is people were intimidated to be in the room with me, because again, I would I’m quite quick, on my feet in terms of marketing, and I spot problems, like, I’m a builder. And that’s not, that’s not a nice experience for people sometimes, like, Oh, I brought this thing in, and all you’re doing is telling me all of the problems with it. And the builders naturally do that. So I’m consciously aware that I do that. And I’m consciously aware that people would prefer they had a nice blend of positive feedback and negative feedback. And I do a far better job now of trying to recognize when people have done a great job and trying to, like, find a better balance between both those things. And someone told me a great thing before were a great gave me great advice before and they were telling me that, you know, as a manager, what we’re kind of inclined to do is spend 80% of our time on 20% of the people who need our help and forget about the A players who are driving most of our success, because you’re so used to them being good at what they do, you don’t tell them that they’re good at what they do. You don’t tell them that you appreciate all of the things that they’re doing. And so I try to get a lot better of the people I take for granted. like they’ve just been so good at their roles. I still try to tell them that and tell them like I appreciate the presentation, you did this thing you did. And so I’m consciously aware of it and have actual weekly habits to make sure that I am telling people when they’re doing a good job again, it has to be warranted or it’s not, or it’s just not kind of it doesn’t feel honest.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 14:02
Yeah. And have you used any sort of tactics to help you get better at this, like, do you have reminders? Or you’re just consciously aware now like, Is there any practice that you put into place,
Kieran Flanagan (HubSpot) 14:14
I think reminders, reminders I’ve done, I used to-do reminders, I’m now I’ve now been, you know, so far into this that I don’t need the reminders anymore, but I used to set myself reminders on a Friday for the phone to send to set up reminders for the or to set up notes for the following week to send to people now I can kind of I’m just in a better habit of being able to like see the things that people are doing that that are that warrant me st telling them they’re doing a great job. And so reminders were the first thing that helped me like blocking out some of your time at the end of each week and taking time to send people notes or scheduling notes to be sent the following week. What I do know is when I spot something that I think was cool whether someone did something within a presentation whether someone did something in the work that they’re doing, I have a little remarkable power Add that I take a note in. And every night, I go back through my remarkable pad and I take all of my notes. And if there’s something in there that I marked as like, must tell that person did a great job. I put them on my to-do list and then I schedule them to go up.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 15:12
So yeah, I mean, I think that’s awesome. I think it’s just the fact of writing things down when you see them because it is really hard to go back and say, Hey, what happened this week? That was, you know, interesting. I do this thing that I’ve recently started doing more of, although I’m still in the habit-building phase, I can’t say that I’ve mastered this is just, I have this daily journal. And then one thing that one question that I have in there is Did anyone do anything yesterday, that you appreciate it? And so it just forces me to think about it? And just, if someone asks you that question, then you can answer a question. But your brain doesn’t naturally go there.
Kieran Flanagan (HubSpot) 15:51
I love that. You bring up a great point where the hard thing that I don’t know how you solve is that most of your appreciation will go to people you spend time with. So it doesn’t solve all of the problems. And that’s, that is a whole other world of like, pain that the people use you especially like you as a founder probably spent as your company will grow. They’ll spend your time when like a smaller and smaller subset of the company. And so that is a hard problem as well because then there’s some favoritism like oh, this person would get praised. After all, they just are doing something that you care about. And so that’s another hard thing, the hard part of being a manager.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 16:27
Yeah, 160 people, I can imagine that starts to get pretty difficult. [AD BREAK BEGINS] Hey there before moving to the next part of the interview, quick interjection to tell you about one of the internet’s best-kept secrets, the manager TLDR newsletter. So every two weeks, we read the best content out there, the greatest articles, the advice, the case studies, whatever the latest and greatest is, we summarize it, and we send it to your inbox, we know you don’t have the time to read everything. But because we’re doing the work will summarize it and send it to your inbox once every two weeks. And the best news is completely free. So go on over to fellow dot app slash newsletter, and sign up today. And with that said, let’s go back to the interview. [AD BREAK ENDS] Sho let’s talk about hiring then. So I’m just curious. So from like the organization’s pretty large that you oversee, how many of these people have you personally interviewed?
Kieran Flanagan (HubSpot) 17:27
That’s a really good question. I don’t know I interview a lot of people. It used to be when we were smaller like everyone would join my team, I would at least be on the final stage. Now we’re just too big that I hire anyone really in a kind of a manager role or above, I’ll be part of the interview process at the last the final phase. And then if there’s any kind of real strategic areas that I am just very focused on, in that given quarter, I’ll make sure that I am part of that interview process. But it’s somewhat changed. Because like my direct team, the people that report directly to me are now VPS or senior directors. So I put them in those roles because I think they’re very good at hiring. But during my time at HubSpot, I have done a lot of interviews.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 18:14
Yeah. And should you remember, like, at what point you start to think that hey, maybe I shouldn’t be in all of these interviews? Was it like at 30 people, 40 people?
Kieran Flanagan (HubSpot) 18:24
You know, it was probably when we were past 70 people on my team. It’s just too tight. And there were just some things I don’t think I was offering much value in interviews, like, I’m in the final, final phase, but I’m just looking at people and there I’m talking to people and they’re all they come to me when everyone else is a yes. Like, yeah, you’re all really smart. And you’ve made really good decisions. So on the s and all these people, and I think it’s where I can offer value or where I think I’ll have an actual opinion that I think is the best use of my time.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 18:54
Yeah. So I guess, you know, hiring is is a really important thing you kind of mentioned that you don’t want the person that you would necessarily hang out with at the bar. What else have you learned about hiring, like after hiring and interviewing so many people? Is there anything that kind of stands out like a go-to question you go to or something that you kind of try to suss out so that you can that he feels to be predictive of, you know, their performance and like how well they fit the culture after.
Kieran Flanagan (HubSpot) 19:25
So I would say going back to mistakes, interviews, like I think, as all new managers hire people that are like them because we as humans just like to spend time and are naturally biased to spend time with people who have the same characteristics. And so when your team starts to reflect on you, you’re in a lot of trouble, because then you just have a bunch of you are all making the same decisions. In terms of like interviews. I have a love-hate relationship with interviews, because how do you like how do you assess someone in a conversation to do a complex senior role? I think it’s kind of hard. I think the best I’m talking about like senior roles, I’m kind of we can talk about different senior, senior seniority. But for senior roles, I think there’s just how they think matters, like how they think about problems, how they approach problems, like the way that they kind of can articulate a problem and be obsessed over that problem, and have some way to explain their thought process from problem to solution, you kind of get an idea of, of how they work. I do think like, I know, we do a lot of these situational interviews, I think there’s a lot to be said, for your portfolio of work in certain functions like marketing. You’re like, Oh, yeah, we did this. We did that. I and it’s hard to know what they did. And, and what was part of their role, and I think being good at like, almost being a detective and being able to dig in to find out what is a couple of things that did, they did they contributed to that. And, doing over 200 interviews on my podcast helped me become a better interviewer like of people, because I became more inquisitive, what I used to do is probably, as an early-stage manager is like, go only so deep into that experience. And I go very, very deep like I will ask, Okay, tell me more. Tell me more. What did you do? Tell me more. And so I try to get deep into that. And then I think having people who like back, you know, referrals from other people that you can go talk to, like people, you know, who know that person, I think to matter a lot. But I don’t know if there’s any like one great interview question that just this is the question that you can ask to say that person is the right candidate or not?
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 21:39
Yeah, so it seems like the more senior the person gets, I mean, again, if someone’s going to be just like, you know, a copywriter, it’s a very specific skill. Maybe there’s like a take-home assignment or something that you can do. But I guess the more senior the person is, it starts to become more situational. And would you say that references like do references almost matter more, the more senior you are?
Kieran Flanagan (HubSpot) 22:02
They matter a lot because the more see you your senior you are, the riskier it is for the person hiring you to hire you. Like if it goes wrong, it’s just harder to untangle. And so I think they matter, they matter more. And because when you’re again, senior, it’s just hard, harder to understand. Okay, you have this large team, what was your contribution? How did you contribute to the success versus your team that if you hired the team, and you were successful, then a lot of that is through being a good leader? And so I do think referrals, recommendations, like knowing other people that you can talk to, in an unbiased way to get information about that person is very helpful.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 22:44
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. So one of the things is, so, hiring, super important. And one of the quotes that actually that we have from you is that if hiring and retaining talent is the number one job of a growth leader, organizing these people into the right structure is just as important. So I would imagine that you would have experimented with a lot of different structures. And I’m curious what your thoughts on structure are and what you’ve learned about organizing groups of people?
Kieran Flanagan (HubSpot) 23:13
Yes. So team structure, team design is something I’m deeply passionate about. So the thing I realized is at a certain point in time, in a company’s growth, your team’s growth, like team design, is the number one growth lever, you have to pull. And so for me design these to establish, like, who owns the goal? And when I mean, who owns the goal, I kind of mean, like, who owns the goal, right? Who can that person be successful against it? Do they have the resources to be successful against it? Can they truly achieve it? And then you want to have a goal? And then you want to have accountability? How does that person be accountable for that? Like, how are you going to measure their success? Do they know that? Do you know that? How are they being measured? Who are the supporting actors that are needed to make that person successful? And are those supporting actors incentivized to help them? And so do they share the goal or have you put in place a working model for them to be able to help that person achieve their goal in so many fast-growth companies when I kind of go in to talk to founders or do any type of advising, and they’re talking to me about team structure the challenge they have, which is a challenge we’ve had previously and it’s just hard thing to do is that people who own the goals don’t have the things they need to be successful in those goals. Like they don’t own the goals like someone else needs to do some development, someone else needs to do design, someone else kind of owns the thing that they need to get changes made in. And so it’s hard for them to fully own the goal. And then what I try to do is like are the best people in the right spots, like Have I got the best people in high impact areas. And then if you just step back, because you’re we’re in this kind of world all the time, we’re thinking about these three structures. Like if I just stepped back and tried to explain my team structure to my bet, my friend who knows nothing about my company, who knows nothing about what I’m trying to do, and I just logically told them how it works. They wouldn’t pull that off. and go, Oh, this seems kind of dumb. Like how this is set up, you’re not like you’re kind of crazy. I think about team structure a lot. We in HubSpot, even though we’re still we’re a large company, kind of change our marketing team structure every 12 months based upon the goals that we set ourselves for the following years. But there are certain teams that we would maybe change more often than adducts. And if it’s a duty move, we’re trying to get it set up. There’s a lot of cross-team collaboration. And one of the best stories I heard on team structure was from the Director of Engineering at Coinbase. And he talked about this during their years of hyper-growth, that they were changing their team structure every six months to account for the change and the variety of the goals. And he, I mean, look, they look at their team structure through a different lens, they don’t look at through this hierarchical tree structure. They looked at it through this thing called work maps, and work maps showed all of the people within all of the people that were needed to be successful against a project across functions. And so if you think about tree structures, the problem with teaching tree structures is they make it seem like marketing can just achieve all its goals and on its sales can achieve all its goals on its product engineering. And the reality isn’t a lot of fast-growth companies and maybe a company like yours, they think your product lead you the growth is the intersection of how a lot of those teams work. And so you need to think about cross-team collaboration as well.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 26:21
Yeah, I think that’s a great point. I mean, the very fact that it’s okay to change team structure often and it makes sense to change team structure when your goals change. And of course, I think this is a problem a lot of people run into, which is like they have a goal, but they don’t necessarily really own all of the pieces. So one question that I have, I guess, around changing team structure is when you’re changing team structure, are you also like, how does that impact the manager-employee relationship? Like, do some people play a manager role? And then like, maybe they become an IC in the next team structure? Or do they always stay managers? And what about the relationship that develops with having a bunch of people working together? Because there is this? You know, if you work with the same people, you learn to work with them better? And how do you account for those sorts of things? Yes, that was a lot of questions.
Kieran Flanagan (HubSpot) 27:19
No, no, it’s a really good question. And I want to be thoughtful about the answer. Because there are some disadvantages and advantages to changing your team structure. And we should say, like, we could change team structure within a given 12 months. And it’s pretty like team changes like this make like this person is doing the work over here. There are just like, small tweaks you’re making to the team structure. And then there are years where we make very large organizational changes and different team designs. And last year would have been an example of that. And that’s very turbulent. So that is, there’s a lot of turbulence for how people work with each other and other changes for how people work with each other. And so the challenge with fluidity in terms of like team design is what you said is like, Oh, well, I’ve had three managers in the last few years, how can they possibly know whether I’m ready for promotion or not. And I like my second manager, I thought my first manager was fine. And I don’t like my third manager. And so there is a lot of kind of turbulence that might come with Team design, and you have to, as a leader, figure out how you can build a model to get people okay, within that turbulence, the disadvantage, I think I’ve wasted, I think the advantages of it outweigh the disadvantages, which means I can be a lot more reactive to put people in the right place to be successful against my company goals because, in any high growth companies, every 12 months looks very, very different. And if you think that you can just have the same team structure, this rigid team structure, and still be successful against these ever-changing goals, I don’t think that’s going to be a success, I think what you’re going to end up with is a lot of people who a don’t have the skillset, you need to be successful like they haven’t grown, as the company has grown, or they just don’t have the right set of skills anymore. If you did for them to be successful, you’re gonna end up with p, which is the thing we talked about. They own the goal, but they don’t own the goal like things have changed so much that there are all these other people that they have to collaborate with to be successful and change in a team structure. For me, a big part of it is giving people autonomy and the resources they need to truly own goals. And so I think the disadvantages of kind of fluidity of team design I weigh or the advantages of the fluidity of team design vastly outweigh the disadvantages. That is not to say that there aren’t disadvantages, which is kind of the thing that you mentioned. Are we getting that which is like kind of the changing nature of who you work with?
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 29:39
Yeah, and and and that’s why this stuff is hard. There are always these trade-offs to make one question again, just on this team design and owning goal. So I would imagine that and you mentioned being responsible for like a piece of work or work map so you probably have teams then that don’t just consist of Mark Kidding, folks as well, right?
Kieran Flanagan (HubSpot) 30:01
Yeah, we have pods.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 30:02
Okay, you have pods and so, how does the manager relationship works in those in those pods if like, someone that you are, say, a manager of works in another team? Like, how did those people effectively, you know, coach, those team members, you know, on their growth and just giving them feedback,
Kieran Flanagan (HubSpot) 30:23
It is mostly for us, it happens, we have this kind of product-like motion where a lot of our business comes from people signing up for free software and then converted into customers. And so when that product had motion, what you end up with is a lot of mix between market and product and engineering. And it does happen in other places as well, with sales, marketers working with sales, or customer success. I think the beauty of a pod is that you put the people with the best skill within a project who are needed to be successful against our project versus saying, well, kind of sales should own this because it’s somewhat of a sales thing or marketing show this in totality. Because you know, it’s somewhat of a marketing thing. It’s like no, like, what are the best skill sets? What are the skill sets, we need to be successful, who are who has those skill sets, and let’s put them into that part. The second part of that is you need leaders who are not obsessed by, you know, territorial dominance, which means like, oh, I just want to own everything. Because the way I view my success is just how big my team is. And that happens a lot. I think people kind of think, Oh, well, my, I’ve got more people than you, then maybe I’m more successful, whereas actually, you should measure your success by just how much impact you’re having. And in terms of how you manage those people, it’s somewhat the same, you need to have a good relationship with the other people who have the other leaders who have people within that pod. And again, I think you get that 360 reviews where you can ask the colleagues who are in the pod, say, how is that person doing, you can ask the leaders of those people, how is that person doing so you can still give them very, very good feedback, it’s somewhat become a little more tricky. And the problems you have to solve for them because maybe the problem is, is, Hey, I’m a marketer, and I’m not working well with this product person, or I’m a marketer, and I can’t explain what I need this, what I need to happen to this engineering person. And so you’re trying to manage to relationships with different functions, versus just like marketers and marketers, for me and awake, some and marketing. But I think that product structure works well when there’s a kind of goal that requires a cross-functional team. And you just want to set that team up with a clear mission to be fully autonomous, to own that goal.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 32:21
Kieran, this has been super awesome, with so many different insights. I know we’re running close to time here. I love your insight on, you know, classifying people into builders, creators, and operators and some of the things we talked about. One question that we ask all of our guests is for all the managers and leaders looking to get better at their craft of managing and leading teams? Are there any final tips, tricks, resources, or just parting words of wisdom that you would leave them with?
Kieran Flanagan (HubSpot) 32:51
Yeah, I’ll give three things. I think, like, it’s hard to learn this from the book. But I do think that trillion-dollar coach by Bill Campbell has a lot of great leadership lessons in it that if you, if you kind of adhere to your will put you in the correct direction. The second thing you can do is just spend time with people you think are good managers, like actually, the easiest way to learn most things is to spend time with people who are good at that thing. It’s kind of a cheat sheet that for some reason a lot of people don’t take advantage of. And then you have to learn by doing like, it’s somewhat similar to me to present in you have to get up on stage and you have to be terrible at the start. And you have a truly embarrassing, and you’re presenting in a monologue, fashion. But as long as you take feedback, and try to seek feedback from your team, like a lot of managers who I don’t think, are good managers, don’t like taking feedback, don’t like hearing criticism. If you’re a person that doesn’t mind that you’ll take feedback, and you act on it very, very quickly. Because remember, you’re kind of responsible for other people. So if you’re not taking action, those things are very, very visible. But if you take that feedback, act on it very quickly, you’re going to be very successful as a manager, like keep asking people for feedback, make sure you’re going to be back from the team, or the people you work with, make sure that your manager is getting that feedback from for you. If they’re not doing that, and then put it into action. Like, make sure you act on it. So people are aware, I can see that you are making that effort.
Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app) 34:09
Yeah. And that’s a great place to end it. Kieran, thanks so much for doing this.
Kieran Flanagan (HubSpot) 34:13
Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for having me on!