Social Network Leadership Lessons: Teamwork

The film, The Social Network, is a powerful portrait of how Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his team started with a dream and a $1000 startup to become the world’s youngest billionaire. As of this writing, Facebook is valued at at least $50 billion, and this would mean it’s worth more than eBay, Yahoo, and Time Warner. This is a very impressive result given that Facebook launched in February 2004.

There are also many lessons that this film can teach us about leadership and team management, and this is the final series in the trilogy. There may be some information in the movie that was exaggerated to add to the excitement level, as even Zuckerberg himself calls The Social Network “inaccurate.” Therefore, he would take all of this information with a grain of salt and recount most of the lessons learned, from the movie itself, and not from real life.

In this article, I’ll share about teamwork and how it can help you unlock your true potential as a leader.

Proper delegation of work. The whole team can only do well when they know what the scope of their work is. In one of the scenes on the Social Network, Mark Zuckerberg wanted to expand The Face Book and directed his team on his roles and what they were supposed to do. And when the two ladies who were present in the room asked him if they could help in any way, he turned them down without much thought because at that moment he knew that he didn’t need their help in any way. On the other hand, he specifically told others what his tasks were.

Even the Winklevoss brothers had specific roles for their team. And they knew they were missing a particular talent when their programmer left the team to focus on his studies. So, when word got out that Zuckerberg was able to shut down Harvard traffic with his “joke”, they immediately reached out to him and pitched his ideas so he could work for them.

Once you know what your team is supposed to be made up of, you can find the right person for the job. You need to set broad, measurable goals for them and you need to be informed of progress as well. Effective delegation isn’t just about turning down jobs that were meant for you. Effective delegation is about ensuring that the person with the right skill does what they do best.

For example, let’s say you intend to increase your customer base with a promotional blitz. First, you need to know who your team members are on this project. Second, you need to identify who does what and their deliverables at any given time. Thereafter, Jane must devise product packages and linkages with other partners, and John must reach out to X advertising companies with marketing materials. So, once the planning stage is over, the real action needs to start to get the project rolling with momentum from all parties.

Build quality relationships first, then your business. Now, not all partners will work together initially. It is your job to resolve differences. And fast. At La Red Social, Eduardo Saverin had his own ideas to ensure the success of the company. However, Mark Zuckerberg also had his own ideas. And while Saverin was the company’s CFO, Zuckerberg proceeded to bring in Sean Parker, the founder of Napster, to the team. Parker and Saverin were portrayed to have a mutual dislike and when your teammates mistrust each other, unless you find time to work things out, a lot of problems will just be swept under the rug and get worse.

As a leader, you need to take the time to understand your business partners because people want you to understand their aspirations and dreams. They want you to understand what they are good at and where they can fit in regarding projects. Why would you want to place a person with zero knowledge in sales without training them first? And have you taken the time to understand if he likes sales? So by investing time to understand your core team members in the business, you would be building quality relationships.

So understand your team and they will learn to understand you. It will definitely take time and that is the fun and rewarding part of building a team.


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