Why You Need to Get Your Hands Dirty

Langley Steinert | Inc

When a start-up grows to a larger company, strong leaders should stay hands on.

When your start-up takes off and your team grows, it is tempting to delegate everything you can. However, as you navigate your company’s further growth, you should be careful not to let go of your ability to do things yourself. For me, finding opportunities to stay engaged in day-to-day operations has been an important element of my leadership style. As they say, the best form of management is to lead by doing.


I had a recent reminder at CarGurus of how important leading by doing is when we launched a new product and sales strategy. To be sure, we were barking up the right tree, and to better understand where we were in the process, I got personally involved with the initiative.

My decision to take on a handful of new prospective accounts in the sales process had a tremendous effect. It was invigorating for me, it challenged the sales team (shouldn’t they be better at this than I am?), and it showed my employees that I’m not afraid to get down to business in any part of the company.

Did I close every lead? Certainly not, but I cultivated a few new client relationships, learned more about customer interest in the product, and was able to close one deal on my own. Experiencing the sales cycle firsthand also gave me the insight I needed to better communicate with the sales team.

I saw the same behavior at my last company, TripAdvisor. My co-founder and current CEO of TripAdvisor, Stephen Kaufer, was notorious for emailing developers in the middle of the night with specific problems he found with the product. Yes, it put our developers on notice that their code was under close scrutiny. But the more important message was that the CEO took it upon himself to check the quality of the product; that mentality permeated the organization.

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