Be the Boss

Slack's CEO recommended this book to his entire executive team — here's why 

Slack’s CEO recommended this book to his entire leadership team
Slack’s CEO recommended this book to his entire leadership team

One of the most useful books Slack co-founder and CEO Stewart Butterfield has ever read on leadership was one he eventually gave to his entire executive team. After reading it, those execs gave the book to their teams until at least 70 people in the company had the book in hand.

The book, "Leadership and Self-Deception," is important, in part, because it outlines two key ways people and teams hold themselves back every day without even realizing it, says Butterfield.

CNBC Make It recently caught up with Butterfield to explain those two lessons and what every leader should understand.

1. Don't treat people like objects

In the context of business, it's easy to fall into the bad habit of treating other people like objects or obstacles in the way of your goals.

"When you do that," says Butterfield, "it often undermines the goals that you have set for yourself."

Instead of acting as though people have some utility to you or they're an impediment to what you're trying to accomplish, keep this in mind: They're people just like you who are trying to be successful at work.

2. Don't betray your own potential

A driving idea in "Leadership and Self-Deception" is that people can create false narratives that can keep them from realizing their own potential.

As an example, Butterfield asks that you imagine you have a 3-year-old who starts crying in the middle of the night. Though you wake up, you don't soothe the child. Instead, you wait for your partner to do it, until you finally think to yourself, "She doesn't hear this? She's just pretending to sleep. She's so lazy."

We often create villains, says Butterfield, "in order to justify the ways in which we fail to live up to our own ideals."

This dynamic is as prevalent as it is destructive. When this type of self-betrayal plays out at work, it can undermine trust and respect across the team. Says Butterfield, "It's crazy how much it shows up in everything — in every kind of relationship that you will have."

"It can make it almost impossible for people to accomplish anything."

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