9 min read

EGD News #84 — Reward-centered leaders

EGD News #84 — Reward-centered leaders

Sent on May 28th 2021.

If you aren’t a subscriber to EGD News, you can subscribe here.

Hi there,

It’s Joakim here. Greetings from Helsinki!

As many of you might have noticed, I sent out two newsletters last Friday. The one that came out later, EGD News #83 was meant for this Friday. I had worked on it for the whole day and then some misclicks with the mouse and I accidentally sent it out a week early.

Topics on that newsletter were:

  • Karoliina Korppoo, from 10th Muse on the podcast
  • To have a startup is the fastest way to learn

You can read it by going here.

But during the week, I noticed that I had so much to tell you. So here’s a full-blown fresh newsletter for you 😊

First off, I wanted to talk about a question I recently posted on social media.

📱Favorite mobile of 2021, so far

I recently posted a question on Twitter and LinkedIn: “What’s the best mobile game you’ve played in 2021 so far?”

Both places summed up, we got some eighty responses and here are the top ten games you should be playing. Use the links to download the game.

Winner: Wild Rift (iOS) (Google)

Tied second place:

Top 5 to 10, without in any order:

It’s a good mix of casual and midcore games. I’ll return to this question at the end of the year, to pull the final results for 2021.

📝 Non-disclosure agreement template

The long asked for non-disclosure agreement template for Elite Game Developers is finally here. I’m first releasing the one-sided NDA template and we will come back to mutual NDA at a later point.

To find out more about the NDA, visit the template page and check out my instruction video for how to fill in the NDA with the needed details.  

Here are a couple of important caveats to bear in mind when using this template.

  • Term of confidentiality obligations. The template sets a five-year term when the receiving party can’t disclose the information that they are receiving. You can agree on three years, but I would suggest not going below three, as, at that point, most things related to gaming have often come to become public knowledge anyway.
  • Individual or company. You can use this template for either a recipient that is a company or an individual. Just remember to remove all the bits and pieces that aren’t required.

Check out the template page to get the template and watch the video for more details.

🏆 The most painful job

I finished The Motive by Patrick Lencioni about a month ago, and after finishing the book, I immediately started writing up this article the the book, by looking at my highlights and notes from the book.

I also emailed and messaged all the founder CEOs that I’m working with or talking to that “you’ve got to read this book right now. It will help you so much in becoming a better CEO, whatever your situation is.” And most of the CEOs picked up the book, and all of them have loved it.

I’ll now try to explain the book’s concept and why it can help new and experienced CEOs figure out their motives for becoming or being a CEO.

Theory of reward-centered leaders

The book talks about a concept called the reward-centered leader, where the person in the CEO role approaches the role as an indulgence to have fun, to work on things that come from personal interest. Working on something that they enjoy, and as Lencioni puts it, seeing that “being a CEO was a reward for a lifetime of hard work.”

Lencioni writes:“When leaders are motivated by personal reward, they will avoid the unpleasant situations and activities that leadership requires. They will calculate the personal economics of uncomfortable and tedious responsibilities—responsibilities that only a leader can do—and try to avoid them. This inevitably leaves the people in their charge without direction, guidance, and protection, which eventually hurts those people and the organization as a whole. Employees will express their disbelief as to how their leader could have been so negligent and irresponsible, yet it makes perfect sense in light of his or her motive for becoming a leader.”

Here are the memories from my career that the book brought up.

I was in when my first startup, Ironstar Helsinki, had failed. I started looking for something to do, and I was so burnt from six years of rough startup life. I needed something else. So I joined Supercell as Director of Analytics, but after a year in that role, I realized that my heart wasn’t in it. Being the Director of Analytics wasn’t what I enjoyed. I enjoyed being an entrepreneur. Then in late 2012, I left to start working on Next Games.

I can now identify that over the year, I struggled to enjoy the analytics role. I’m a big fan of data-informed or data-driven game creation, but it’s not where I’d find meaning for myself. Also, to expand on it, I don’t think I could have been happy in any role at Supercell. I’m so glad when I’m an entrepreneur.

From founding Next Games in 2013 to leaving the company in 2019, I felt confident that I wouldn’t be interested in the CEO position. I was happy being focused on the product and being the founder representative on the company’s board. If I had been CEO, I would not have enjoyed it as much as I enjoy working on products.

On some occasions, I thought that maybe if I’d be CEO, it would have meant something more for my life. But I’ve come to realize that fulfillment comes from working on the things that make you happy. And after reading The Motive, it’s more apparent than ever that I would have treated the CEO role as a reward.

Leaving the reward-centered leader behind

I want to expand more on how you can identify the reward-centered leader in yourself and what you can do about it. In Lencioni’s book, he talks about the activities that reward-centered leaders aren’t doing. Mainly because they don’t enjoy the work that needs to be put into these areas.

1. Developing the Leadership Team. Make the team work well together. “Do you feel that spending time developing your team members’ interpersonal dynamics is superfluous or a waste of time?”

2. Managing Subordinates and Making Them Manage Theirs. Coaching the people, like coaching Olympic athletes, and making sure that they emulate your coaching. “Do you believe that providing individual guidance and coaching to your people is somehow beneath you or not worth your time?”

3. Having Difficult and Uncomfortable Conversations. CEOs are avoiding it because they don’t like emotional and uncomfortable conversations. “Would you rather learn to live with a person’s difficult behaviors than endure an awkward, potentially emotional discussion with them?”

4. Running Great Team Meetings. CEO hating meetings are like the teacher hating to go to class. “Do you complain about your meetings being boring or ineffective, and do you long for the end of them?”

5. Communicating Constantly and Repetitively to Employees. Bringing up the values, the mission, the company’s objectives, and talking about the systems that matter. Bringing those up all the time. “Do you resent having to repeat yourself, complaining that your employees don’t listen?”

Let’s talk about how you can move away from being the reward-centered leader.

Leaving the reward-centered leader behind

How do you start the change? For any reward-centered leader, you’d first start by shifting the underlying attitude about what it means to be a leader, to be a good one. Move from reward-seeking to responsibility-seeking.

After you’ve changed your attitude from reward-centered to servant and responsibility-centered, you can start to look at what activities you are doing. The book gives two areas to take hold of as you transcend away from the reward-centered leader towards the responsibility-centered leader.

Work hard on making meetings matter: The proper system of meetings comes from the CEO. The CEO owns the format of meetings. “If your meetings are bad, then your executives are having bad meetings with their teams. And it cascades from there. And the person who is responsible for making your meetings effective is you—no one else. You can’t delegate that job. It’s yours and yours alone.”

Day-to-day development of your team: To manage your team, you need to know enough about what they are working on to support them in their needs. Then you can start confronting the team about their issues, “keeping your people engaged in the most important conversations, and it’s about holding them to higher standards.”

  • Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:
  • “You might be working hard, but you’re not doing it for the company. You’re doing it for yourself.”
  • “The best of us can slide almost unconsciously into reward-centered leadership.”

“Just because someone is in his fifties and has lots of experience doesn’t mean he doesn’t need to be managed. It’s not a form of punishment or a sign of a lack of trust. It’s the benefit of direction and guidance. I mean, the best football player in the world needs coaching.”

It’s a short read, only 165 pages. Check out the book by going here.

This newsletter is sponsored by Favro

📃 Articles worth reading

Deepening company culture during Covid — “Many organizations do work effectively remotely. In the beginning, Finnish mobile game studio Dodreams Ltd. noted how excited its team was to work from home. People felt that – finally – they could focus; they didn’t waste time commuting; and working in sweats is so much more agreeable.”

Fierce Nerds — “Most people think of nerds as quiet, diffident people. In ordinary social situations they are — as quiet and diffident as the star quarterback would be if he found himself in the middle of a physics symposium. And for the same reason: they are fish out of water. But the apparent diffidence of nerds is an illusion due to the fact that when non-nerds observe them, it’s usually in ordinary social situations. In fact some nerds are quite fierce.”

Saving your co-founder relationship — “My relationship with my co-founder is fraying. It’s no longer enjoyable to work with them, and it’s getting worse. But I need to make it work for the good of the business. Any advice?”

💬 Quote that I’ve been thinking about

“Whatever you do or dream you can do—begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it.” — Goethe

Sponsored by ironSource

Discover app monetization benchmarks and learn tips for maximizing revenue from the growth experts at ironSource.

Get the report from here.

Sponsored by Pollen VC

Pollen VC is the leading provider of debt financing for mobile app and game developers. They also provide a suite of free, online tools to help developers improve their understanding of financing strategies. With a focus on three key areas — user acquisition planning, unpacking confusing financial jargon, and capital efficiency — the initiative is helping equip developers to make more informed decisions on financing and growth.

Check out their newly launched CFO Resources page here.​

Sponsored by Opera Event

​Looking for some great new authentic video creative? Try something totally new with Influencer Generated Content (IGC) by Opera Event. Influencers or actors will make specific creative content for your games and Opera Event will deliver you high-quality video ads that highlight the best parts of your game.

Note! You get a free video with the purchase of 4 or more videos. Remember to say that Elite Game Developers sent you!

Go to www.getigc.com to see some examples and get more information.​​

If you’re enjoying EGD News, I’d love it if you shared it with a friend or two. You can send them here to sign up. I try to make it one of the best emails you get each week, and I hope you’re enjoying it.

I hope you have a great weekend!