Everybody likes their ideas to be validated, but for OneLogin, leading by consensus doesn’t add up to success.
The San Francisco, California-based cloud-based identity and access management provider’s Chief Executive Brad Brooks thinks understanding the difference between consensus and collaboration is key to running a thriving software as a service company. “It’s my firm belief that a ‘consensus’ culture kills companies; collaboration makes them great,” Brooks said in a question and answer session with TheSaasReport. “The key difference: In a consensus culture, everybody needs to approve of the direction of an initiative before you can go for it. With collaboration, you have a clear point of view and a clear owner who listens to stakeholders and makes his or her decision – and everybody lines up behind it.”
Brooks leadership style and focus on collaboration was born out of the work he did at Microsoft as the executive in charge of turning around the Windows operating system brand with the launch of Windows 7. Brooks oversaw the launch of the OS in 55 countries, going out to more than one billion users. That gave him a crash course in how to accomplish things at scale. As it stands, Windows 7 is still the most deployed OS in businesses, noted the executive. A newbie as CEO-- in his second year as CEO for OneLogin--Brooks said his role as Chief of Marketing at DocuSign readied him for the challenges of running a company. Eighteen months into his stint at CMO of DocuSign he was asked to quadruple his responsibilities and workload, preparing him for the demands of being at the top. “That experience helped me understand how to quickly and analytically see across departments to establish priorities – and it gave me stamina,” said Brooks.
But hard work isn’t enough. Brooks thinks leadership is about believing in the business before you can see it and getting employees to believe before the vision is laid out in front of them. That requires not only being a visionary but being able to deliver tangible proof that you can get the company and its employees to that vision. It's become a top property of the CEO at OneLogin.
For aspiring technology CEOs, Brooks said the key is to choose the proper management team, have the appetite to make those hard changes that will benefit the business and be willing to overhaul roles to align with the changing goals of the company. He also says leaders should not languish when making decisions and should provide a clear-cut vision for the company. “To me, vision must be something that inspires the employees and intrigues customers about where you want to go. It’s got to be clear about not just where you are today, but about where you're going next,” he said.