Why don't you come in with a list of what you want to discuss."
But everyone ignored me and they kept doing their presentations meeting after meeting, month after month.
So about two years in, I said, "OK, I hate rules but I have a rule: no more PowerPoint in my meetings. And I mean it, no more."
About a month later I was about to speak to our global sales team on a big stage and someone came up to me and said,
"Before you get on that stage, you really should know everyone's pretty upset about the no PowerPoint with clients thing."
I said, "What no PowerPoint with clients thing?"
They said, " You made rule: no PowerPoint."
So I got on the stage and said, "one, I meant no PowerPoint with me.
But two, more importantly, next time you hear something that's really stupid, don't adhere to it. Fight it or ignore it, even if it's coming from me or Mark."
A good leader recognizes that most people won't feel comfortable challenging authority, so it falls upon authority to encourage them to question.
It's easy to say that you're going to encourage feedback but it's hard to do, because unfortunately it doesn't always come in a format we want to hear it.
When I first started at Google, I had a team of four people and it was really important to me that I interview everyone who was on my team.
It felt like being part of my team meant I had to know you.
When the team had grown to about 100 people, I realized it was taking longer to schedule my interviews.
So one day at my meeting of just my direct reports, I said "maybe I should stop interviewing", fully expecting them to jump in and say "no, your interviews are a critical part of the process." They applauded.
Then they fell over themselves explaining that I was the bottleneck of all time.
I was embarrassed. Then I was angry and I spent a few hours just quietly fuming.
Why didn't they tell me I was a bottleneck? Why did they let me go on slowing them down?
Then I realized that if they hadn't told me, it was my fault.
I hadn't been open enough to tell them that I wanted that feedback and I would have to change that going forward.
When you're the leader, it is really hard to get good and honest feedback, no many how many times you ask for it.
One trick I've discovered is that I try to speak really openly about the things I'm bad at, because that gives people permission to agree with me, which is a lot easier than pointing it out in the first place.
So To take one of many possible examples, when things are unresolved I can get a tad anxious.
Really, when anything's unresolved, I get a lot anxious.
I'm quite certain no one has accused me of being too calm.
So I speak about it openly and that gives people permission to tell me when it's happening.
But if I never said anything, would anyone who works at Facebook walk up to me and say, "Hey Sheryl, calm down. You're driving us all nuts!"
I don't think so.