I recently sat down with Bill McLawhon, head of leadership development at Facebook and a seasoned executive coach. But first a little context: Many of Facebook's nearly 5,300 staff are under the age of 30. It's a company Bill describes as being "hierarchy- and title-agnostic". But don't expect Bill to deliver another of those boomer rants about narcissistic, entitled Millennials.
So how does the first Millennial-run organization to hit the Fortune 500 develop its global leaders? And what does that tell us about where leadership development will be headed in the future?
Our whole approach to leadership development at Facebook is coherent with the fact that we're an engineering company to the core, and we're led and run by Millennials. We have no interest in a competency-based model of leadership. That doesn't fit who we are. Our engineering, Millennial roots shape who we are from top to bottom.
So I don't have to convince leaders at Facebook that they need these capabilities. They almost unconsciously know that these skills are the only way to get things done in such a flat, meritocratic organization.
These global realties significantly influence what we do all across the company. We're increasing our global footprint with data centers, engineering offices and sales offices placed in strategic hubs around the world. And we're creating teams in those regions that reflect the cultural complexion of the region. Most of our international offices are made up of local talent, with a few expats from other regions brought in when a specific expertise is needed.
Headquarters remains in Menlo Park but we're looking at how to avoid a purely unidirectional flow from Menlo Park to our global regions. Instead, we're creating ways for a parallel flow of information, strategies, and leadership that goes both ways. This might include having a functional head based in a place like Mumbai who manages a team located around the world, including individuals in Menlo Park.
We'll cease to be Facebook if we eliminate all our core values from how we operate. But we're conscious of this challenge and it's one of the things that we'll be prioritizing most this next year —how do we develop high performing teams who can effectively utilize our diversity across the world to make even greater impact?
Bill McLawhon is Head of Leadership Development at Facebook and oversees the coaching process across the company. Prior to coming to Facebook, Bill spent 13 years coaching executives within High Tech, Bio Tech and Financial Services, following a VP position at Charles Schwab & Co.
You can read a longer interview with Bill McLawhon, as well as a series of articles on culturally intelligent leadership, in the upcoming issue of People & Strategy Journal..