The Ties That Bind: Harnessing The Power Of Collective Resolve How many entrepreneurs out there can confidently state that their respective teams, in times of adversity, would stand united, and rally behind their leaders?
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In mid-November this year, the global tech entrepreneurial ecosystem around the world was shaken by the announcement from San Francisco-headquartered OpenAI -the company that introduced the groundbreaking artificial intelligence (AI) tool ChatGPT just about a year ago- that its board had decided to fire its CEO, Sam Altman.
The news came as an absolute shock since Altman was, at least until then, essentially the face of the company; plus, the reasons offered for his dismissal were vague and unclear as well. But then, in a matter of days, the whole situation had turned around. It all began after more than 730 employees of OpenAI threatened to leave the company, and follow Altman to his new digs at Microsoft (where he had been earmarked to lead an "advanced AI research team"), unless the board not only resigns, but also reinstate him as CEO.
In a dramatic turn of events, Altman soon made a triumphant return to OpenAI as its CEO, and a shake-up followed in the company's board as well. Now, there's still a lot left to unpack about both Altman's abrupt ouster and his jubilant reinstatement after, but, for now, I'd like to focus on what -arguably- seems to have been the key factor that led to his return- a team that was willing to drop everything they had to follow him to just about anything he did next.
Now, this can sound scary to a certain degree, especially when you consider how such cult-like adorations are often portents of toxicity in the long term. However, this doesn't appear to be the case when it comes to Altman and OpenAI, and that makes the apparent feel-good nature of this story something all of us in the entrepreneurial world should definitely take note of. After all, how many entrepreneurs out there can confidently state that their respective teams, in times of adversity, would stand united, and rally behind their leaders?
As we reach the end of a year, I think this is something that all of us in positions of leadership should take time to ponder upon. If your answer to the aforementioned question is a yes, congratulations to you- this is something to be absolutely proud about. But if your answer is a no, then, well, now is perhaps the best time to rethink (and rejig) your team dynamics for the new year- it's best not to wait until a reckoning to work on this!