A young Zynga employee called Sash Mackinnon wrote a great post yesterday describing what it’s like to work with Mark Pincus. These are the money quotes (I hope you can have two money quotes??):
Working with Mark had been a transformative experience. He had taught me to think and to solve problems objectively. He taught me that everything is a hypothesis until you’ve been able to validate it. He taught me to connect with and learn from everyone. Fundamentally, he had taught me to be an entrepreneur, and I was itching to be in an environment where I could put it to use.
I wasn’t the only employee Mark would go out of his way for. Everything he does has an undertone of empathy: his habit of replying to every email, his insistence on great perks and a fun office space, and the amount of time he spends working to properly communicate with employees. He would have me meet people from all over the company to capture their ideas and find ways to make them heard.
Mark clearly works hard to enable and empower his employees and these quotes bring out what it means to do that, with a practical ‘what to do’ perspective for leaders and a ‘what does it feel like’ perspective for employees. Powerful stuff.
As we all know, Zynga has had its problems and all is clearly not right with its culture, but the VCs who have invested in Pincus write glowingly of his management abilities and I think we are seeing more and more of this leadership model in both small and large companies. I think it is especially powerful in startups because the founder is able to have a closer relationship with employees, because empowered employees deliver better results in highly fluid and dynamic environments (i.e. startup environments) and because fast growth creates space for people to grow into.