**Prioritizing “Company, Team, Self”**
During my time at Uber, I relied on a decision-making framework called “company, team, self.” This framework helped me prioritize the needs of the company, my team, and myself in that order. It was a valuable tool that usually led to the right decisions and allowed me to voice my disagreement with decisions that prioritized individual or team preferences over the company’s priorities. However, as I gained more experience as a manager, I realized that blindly following this framework could lead to burnout and hinder long-term career growth.
**The Downside of “Company, Team, Self”**
While the “company, team, self” framework was effective in ensuring that the company’s goals were prioritized, I observed that the most valuable work in a company is not always the most interesting or recognized. Engineers who focused on solving urgent problems without much recognition or promotion would eventually become frustrated and deenergized. This made me realize that a more balanced approach that considers personal engagement is necessary for long-term career success.
**The Positive-Sum of Energy Management**
People derive energy in different ways. Some find energy in programming, coaching, exploratory work, optimizing systems, speaking at conferences, or even cleaning up internal documents. Allowing individuals to engage in work that energizes them, even if it may not be the most important, can lead to greater productivity. Rigidly adhering to any prioritization model, such as “company, team, self,” may result in a team that lacks energy and struggles to make progress. It’s essential to strike a balance between prioritizing company goals and maintaining personal energy.
**Embracing Flexibility in Prioritization**
Leadership requires continually adapting and making decisions that suit the situation. While there may be a correct answer in theory, applying it to specific circumstances is often complex and nuanced. Considering the energy levels of your team can make you a more effective leader, as long as the energizing work aligns with the overall goals and doesn’t create problems for others.
**The “Eventual Quid Pro Quo” Framework**
My revised framework for prioritization, which I refer to as “eventual quid pro quo,” combines the business-first perspective of “company, team, self” with the understanding that becoming deenergized or disengaged poses a significant risk. The core principles of this framework are as follows:
1. Prioritize company and team priorities over personal ones.
2. If experiencing a decrease in energy, prioritize energizing work until a balance is restored.
3. If unable to balance long-term energy and priorities for over a year, focus solely on solving the issue (e.g., changing roles or quitting).
This framework allows me to remain faithful to my priorities while also ensuring that I don’t drain my energy within the first few years of a role. However, it’s important to note that this framework works for me personally, and each individual needs to understand their own energizing work and priorities to develop an effective framework.
**Decoupling Timing of Repayment**
In leadership roles, it’s crucial to avoid a short-term quid pro quo mindset where individuals prioritize projects based on immediate personal benefit. This approach creates friction and may result in being considered last for valuable assignments. Decoupling the timing of repayment allows for access to engaging work while still advocating for appropriate recognition. Although it’s not a perfect solution and may not always lead to immediate rewards, it maintains the opportunity for growth and fair compensation.
In conclusion, while the “company, team, self” framework was beneficial in many ways, it’s essential to strike a balance between prioritizing the company’s needs and maintaining personal energy. Flexibility and adapting to each situation are crucial for effective leadership. The “eventual quid pro quo” framework provides a balanced approach that considers both company priorities and personal engagement. It’s important for individuals to understand their own energizing work and priorities to develop a prioritization framework that suits them best.