I worked at a company called ELT. I had no direct reports at first. The company ballooned up to a little over 60 people at its height, but it started imploding and we were down to eight or nine people. I had done so many different roles, and I was offered the CEO job.
Overnight I went from having never managed people to managing other people who’d been higher on the food chain than me or had been peers of mine. I was 28 and the youngest person there.
I actually think that was a tremendously good experience for me because, right from the get-go, I got used to being a manager where people questioned my credibility. I was never surrounded by “yes” people. There was a lot of reaction like, “Who are you and why do you have this job?”
Even now I like to have people around me who will disagree with me and who will tell me when they think I’m wrong or something is a terrible idea. If I get the feeling I have people around me who are managing up, I get very nervous. I just instantly start wondering, “What’s actually happening and why can’t you give me more of a balanced picture?”