How Not to be a Jerk in Silicon Valley

5 Steps to Bringing our Community Together.

Sexual harassment, gender gaps, unethical behavior… is being a “jerk” the norm in Silicon Valley?

Silicon Valley companies are known for their high-tech, extravagant campuses. However, peeking beyond their sleep pods and private concerts the behavior and communication in the office is often less than amazing. Startups to large corporations are under fire due to their flamboyant “Tech-Bro” cultures, which made them so “great” in the first place.

CEOs and Managers set the standard for respect in the workplace, but what happens when their moral compass plummets and they act like jerks? This whirlwind of chaos not only impacts the employees but also destroys brand reputation.

Which brings up my question, do you need to be a jerk to run a successful company?

Read my thoughts on how we can work together as a community to be better leaders and entrepreneurs, as well as, not be jerks.

1) Earn Respect Through Integrity

I’m all for playing hardball and taking every advantage I can. For me, business is like a sport. You need to be prepared every day and take advantage of the competition when they fail to plan effectively. Finding the gaps in their “defense” is the difference between winning and losing. Cheating, intimidating and stealing your way to victory will always come back to haunt you and your integrity. One of my early managers at IBM said, “It takes 1 minute to ruin your reputation, and 10 years to earn it back”.

2) Diversity Brings Ideas

In many cases, unethical behavior is a result of like-minded thinking gone unchecked. Absence of diversity, can often lead to poor decisions at the leadership level. Diversity in hiring is a critical component to fostering unique perspectives, innovation and challenging the status quo.

3) Be Transparent

At Drobo, we have implemented “Transparent Tuesdays” which is a team gathering to foster communication among departments. All employees participate and are encouraged to share their views, resulting in two important outcomes: First, we are transparent on the health of the company and second we share information on the progress of each group. This makes it easier to face tough situations and make the right decisions.

4) Value Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is an important skill for navigating the stressful, high-pace work environments typically found in Silicon Valley. The best managers and leaders are those who can cultivate and sustain long-term relationships with peers, partners and customers. I encourage my team members to be aware of the behaviors and motivations of others, to develop positive working relationships.

5) Focus on Culture

Running Drobo is the greatest and toughest job I have ever had. It’s rewarding to see my team grow, gain market share and provide service to our loyal customers. I am focused on building a great company culture, which serves our employees and customers in the best way possible. One of the most important things a CEO can do, is foster an open, inclusive and team-oriented culture. Poor decisions and behavior at the leadership level always trickle down and negatively influence the rest of the company.

All in all, we can do better. Unethical behavior has no place in Silicon Valley, Hollywood, Wall Street or anywhere else. At Drobo, we welcome diversity and equal opportunities, is your company doing the same? Discover how your work culture is impacting you and how we can come together as a community.

Tune in our Facebook Live on Friday, October 13th at 11AM PST as I discuss “Why Work Culture Matters: The Impact on You” with Jarie Bolander, the author of “THE ENTREPRENEUR ETHOS: How to Build a More Ethical, Inclusive, and Resilient Entrepreneur Community”.

-Mihir Shah, CEO of Drobo.