I already have a job and being the CEO of Nvidia is a great privilege. It is once in a life time opportunity. – Jensen Huang
Climbing the corporate ladder and reaching the top is not easy. Jensen Huang was able to do that and more. Being a leader is not about being a one trick pony or showcasing a single achievement for the rest of your life. Leadership is something you embody in your life in every day and every moment.
Jensen cofounded the company Nvidia in 1993, a company that has become a household name in almost all countries. Anyone who is interested in gaming or powerful computer chips has heard this name.
As the CEO for nearly 30 years, Jensen built the company and the brand. A testament to his success is his net worth, which is just over $12 billion. There are many lessons that the next generation leaders can learn from Jensen.
Leadership Lesson #1: Celebrate Failure
The road to building a leading company, just like becoming a recognized leader, is a long one. Jensen had to face multiple failures before achieving success. What led him and Nvidia to greatness was the culture of recognizing failures as a part of the journey and celebrating these failures.
Jensen knew that the only way for a company to grow was to take calculated risks. The problem with that is that risks lead to failures more often than success.
Soon after Jensen cofounded Nvidia and hired a hundred people, the company was on the way to bankruptcy. The technology that they built, after raising a lot of money, didn’t work.
I think that’s what’s thrilling about leadership when you’re holding onto literally the worst possible hand on the planet and you know you’re still going to win. – Jensen Huang
How did Jensen know he would turn around a failing company? He saw the challenging times as an opportunity to build a lasting company culture. The core values that would take the company to the top.
Jensen started to celebrate every failure. The company culture was to try something new, fail, learn from the experience, and move forward. They failed multiple times, but each time they learnt something about how to make the product better. The experience of repeatedly failing forward is what helped create Nvidia as a leading company.
Lesson #2: Develop Authentic Leadership Style
No one becomes a leader overnight. There are many who step into the role and then learn from their mistakes to become great. The problem is that some people try to fake it until they make it.
In order to feel like a leader, people start to imitate top CEOs. They dress a certain way, speak in a certain style, and take on hobbies that they feel are suitable for their role. None of these mannerisms and habits are genuine to the person, and they are adopted in order to pass off as a leader in the eyes of others.
Jensen is a believer in authentic leadership and he appreciates people who are authentic. You have to be who you are and be honest while evaluating a situation.
If you fake your way through life you will not be able to inspire your team. On the other hand, if you are genuinely interested in your work and if you are honest; you are on your way to greatness.
You can’t manage your way into greatness. You’ve got to lead your way into greatness, and so you have to lead with your heart. – Jensen Huang
Lesson #3: Become a Coach and Train New Leaders
There is a limit to how much a leader can learn through personal experience. The next level of growth comes from training the next generation of leaders in the company. Even a small business owner should have someone to depend on when the entrepreneur is not in office.
Jensen believes that one of the jobs of a CEO is to cultivate new leaders. This is the only way to ensure that the company grows. The next generation of leaders can come up with new ideas, grow new businesses, and expand the business to new geographies.
The main work that occupies most of Jensen’s time as CEO involves sitting down with the general managers of Nvidia and helping them to think through strategies and challenges they face in the company.
Lesson #4: Aim to Be the Best
It was no accident by which Nvidia became a leading chipmaker in the world. Jensen and the others in the company made conscious choices that led them to become a great company.
The people at Nvidia are passionate about what they do, and the environment in the company enables them to become the best in the world in whatever they do. This culture attracts the top talent in the industry who want to work there.
The strategy to achieve this boils down to three key elements. The company finds projects that are meaningful, something that has never been done before, and the success of the project means a positive contribution to society. So, Jensen’s formula for building a great company is do something that matters, something the team is good at, and something that brings all of them joy.
Lesson #5: Execution Is Key to Success
The best laid plans can go wrong because of inefficient execution. Jensen knows that execution is more important than coming up with a brilliant plan.
What is Jensen’s philosophy of ensuring proper execution? According to him, it is better to have a simple idea that you can execute perfectly than having a grandiose idea that will be difficult to implement.
As CEO of Nvidia, Jensen gets to hear great ideas every day, but he knows he can’t implement many of them. At the end of the day, the company’s leadership has to decide what projects to take up based on feasibility.
Jensen knows that his company doesn’t have to change the world overnight. He can do this over the next 50 years by creating one profitable product at a time.
Work Hard and Have Fun
Working too hard can lead to you burning out by the weekend. As a business owner or the head of a company, your aim should be to stay in business over the long run. The only way you can do this is by being passionate about your work and having fun while working.