2019 Lesson From Phil Spencer

Phil Spencer

I recently got a chance to catch up, via email, with Phil Spencer (whom I’d recently written about).

Phil, Head of Xbox and Executive Vice President of Gaming at Microsoft, is in a leadership position I hope to be in, someday.

So I couldn’t resist the opportunity to pick Phil’s brain.

Since we were coming to the end of 2019, I wanted to know what 1 lesson a man in his leadership position learned in 2019 that he’d carry into 2020.

It was like getting a rare opportunity to talk to my future self and get sage advice I could act on now.

Here’s what Phil said:

Patience. More than anything I’ve valued my lesson in 2019 of letting teams and project take the time they need and me, as a leader, giving them the support to not feel crushed by the constant need to supply updates/progress. It’s not always easy, so many interesting things going on and business wants those things yesterday but it’s my job to be patient and give the teams the space to grow and achieve.

Happy New Year.”

Phil Email

Phil says, more than anything, patience is the one lesson he’s taking into 2020 to help him be a better leader.


I want to unpack that for a second.

Being a leader is a really tough role if you think about it.

You are frequently asked to deliver critical business objectives. Asked to field questions about tasks you didn’t personally implement. Asked to speak on matters you’re not directly related to. There’s a lot of pressure there!

Pressure to have all the answers. Pressure to not look like you don’t know what’s going on. And pressure to deliver. Even when you don’t have direct impact/influence.

And so, it can be easy to be impatient. And channel all that pressure on to your directs and employees…which just exacerbates the situation.

But what Phil’s saying here is, to be a better leader you must be patient with your teams. Be their shield from those pressures mentioned above.

Thank You Phil.

How will you apply patience in your life to have a better 2020?