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High Output Management for Today’s Businesses with Aaron Levie, CEO, Box

Outstanding team performance is vital for a thriving organization. However, optimal team performance starts with inspirational leadership.

So, how can executives create a high-performance culture, motivate employees, and drive strategy and innovation, all while bringing out the best in individuals and teams?

In his keynote session from WorkRamp LEARN Virtual Summit, Aaron Levie, CEO & Co-Founder, Box, shares the importance of using high output management to shape extraordinary teams capable of exceptional performance. 

Building teams with purpose

Successful team development starts with strategic alignment between talent and business goals. Aaron notes that teams naturally evolve with the business and the problems you’re solving. Still, talent must align with company goals and where the organization is going and organize as a team.

Aaron stressed that the right talent is imperative, but team dynamic is also essential. 

“You can have the world’s greatest individual contributor for where your business is going, but if you can’t ensure a strong team dynamic and get the most out of the whole team with that individual, it doesn’t work,” he says. “Everyone is fitting in this mosaic. Some people are incredible operationally, balanced out by someone incredible in strategy. How do you make that team gel with different talents and skillsets and enable them to be effective at what they’re great at?”

Decisions regarding team members should be grounded in the company’s future. It’s insufficient to gather a roster of star performers; the real success comes from integrating these individuals into a cohesive unit that amplifies their collective strengths.

Creating culture through core values

Nurturing the right team environment requires time, attention, and the right conditions. Essential elements include camaraderie, open communication, and a shared sense of purpose. 

Aaron shares some core values that have helped him create high-performing teams at Box.

  • Have 10x ideas. 10x in performance improvement–breakthrough ideas. Customers generally only pay for things that are 10x cheaper, 10x faster, 10x more innovative because it’s a lot to change what you’re currently using. You have to be 10x better at what you’re delivering. 
  • Blow our customers’ minds. This means the Box team is doing everything possible to make their customers wildly successful with their software. Anybody in the company must step up to do what’s best for the customer base. 
  • Make mom proud. This is all about the team creating interaction and collaborating they can be proud.

Some aspects of culture are universal and timeless, like core values and the company mission. And then, some parts evolve, like hiring decisions, goal-setting, business processes, and execution. 

“We want to set up a strong culture of dedicated, hardworking, highly collaborative, high candor, high execution, but one that is organized around how we work well together and create a safe environment where people can be themselves and bring their best selves and best ideas to work,” Aaron says. “Then, we align that to ambitious goals and targets and an operating model that lets people execute against those goals.”

Read more: How to Create a High-Performance Culture

Leadership evolution: from founder to facilitator

Leaders and founders must transition from being hands-on with every detail to empowering others. This evolution is crucial to cultivating team dynamics and eliciting the best performance and ideas.

“As a founder, you want to be involved in everything,” Aaron says. “Every decision was life or death. One wrong turn could end the company. 

“Over time, you’re not always in this wartime mode. The more run rate is how you delegate the right work to the team. Your role becomes more about cultivating talent and team dynamic, ensuring and enabling collaboration, layering in when you have strong opinions, and doing your best to pull out the best ideas from people.”

It becomes a balance of figuring out how to maximize the talent in the organization, staying out of the way when people are doing great work and executing, and stepping in when necessary.

Read more: What is People-Centric Leadership

Promoting customer centricity

Implementing a customer-first mindset means establishing a culture that listens and responds to feedback. 

This involves company-wide alignment on the mission to meet and exceed customer expectations through rapid responses to issues or proactive engagement to solicit feedback. 

“Your customers want to tell you things,” Aaron says. “What new features do they want, better ways to serve them, markets you should be entering? We are always listening to our customers. Ninety-five percent of what we build as a company comes from customer feedback.”

It’s about transforming customer insights into strategies and solutions that resonate with users and market needs.

High-output management fosters a team environment where each member is positioned to contribute, collaborate, innovate, and excel. By doing so, businesses can craft adaptive, agile teams that are ready to surpass expectations.

Watch the full session for more insights from Aaron, and check out on-demand replays from WorkRamp LEARN to hear from People, Revenue, and Customer leaders.


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