That one time we totally binged watched leadership lessons with Reed Hastings

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings famously transformed a DVD delivery business into the world’s leading streaming entertainment platform. On a recent visit to West, he shared his perspectives on what it takes to lead companies through transformation and growth.

Nothing matters more than having a clear sense of what you’re trying to accomplish and being resolute about avoiding distraction.

To be a great leader. Be a great person.
With all the pressure leaders face to drive performance, it’s easy to lose sight of what's important.

Long-term planning is a waste of time -- be nimble.
Trend forecasts and scenario planning give leaders the false impression that they’re prepared for what’s next – but they seldom are, because the future is unpredictable. Instead of prognosticating, Netflix focuses on responding to emergent phenomena in real time.

Process can make you vulnerable.
Companies that respond to challenges by implementing processes create cultures of conformity. When circumstances change and old processes don’t sync with new realities, process-driven companies often find themselves unable to adapt.

Some markets are too big.
It’s easy to say when a market is too small; too big, less so. The right-sized market is one that’s big enough to sustain growth but not so big that category leadership is unattainable. To be credible, balance scale with specificity when defining your market.

Strategy is pain.
Strategy is about deciding what you’re not going to do, the hard decisions you need to make, and everything you’re going to sacrifice.

For big decisions, use Google docs.
At strategic crossroads, Reed shares his thinking with top Netflix execs in a Google doc and has them add their opinions for all to see. He says this process often does a better job of surfacing nuanced opinions than a conventional meeting would.

Manage your workforce like a top-tier sports team.
Only the A-team gets to play. Offering generous severance packages to employees who are just average ensures teams maintain world-class performance standards.

Board meetings are dialogue, not presentations.
If you’re spending your board meetings going through slide decks, you’ve missed a big opportunity to have meaningful conversations and build rapport with your board members.

How to think about difficult conversations.
Difficult conversations are easier when framed as choices between competing values. (For instance: kindness and honesty.)

Sometime, the best executive coach is a marriage counselor.