Skip to main content
Mark Llobrera

Top level navigation menu

Mandy Brown: “Writers and talkers and leaders, oh my!”

Still thinking about this recent post by Mandy Brown, especially this part:

In most orgs, talkers are overrepresented among the leadership. This is not because talking offers any advantages over writing in terms of thinking power. Rather, it’s that most of our models for leadership—meetings, town halls, presentations, interviews—privilege talkers.

The result is that a great many orgs have talkers at the top and writers down below, but because power obscures difference, the talkers are very rarely aware of this setup.

I also liked this observation about matching the tactic to the moment:

But more than any specific process I want to posit that the real trick to getting the best out of all the brains around you is to ask what people need and then draw from whichever tactic will meet that need in that moment. Get in the habit of asking questions like: has everyone had a chance to think this out? Do you need more space to talk or write or something else? Can you share what you understand has been decided here today, and why? And then respond without judgement to whatever emerges.

More than favoring any one particular mode, I’ve been trying to keep my eyes open to moments when things clearly need to switch up. We’ve all seen situations like a Slack thread ballooning to dozens of replies—maybe that’s a sign that async/writing mode needs to be interrupted with a short, real-time discussion to get everyone back in sync.

I also like explicitly naming the modes you want to use, as well as their intent: “We’re going to work async for half an hour so people can gather their thoughts, then we’re going to meet for an hour to make some decisions collectively”. This lets people know that even though it may not be their favorite mode, there’s a reason behind using it, and a desired outcome.