Making the Leadership CI

Kathy Korevec
3 min readApr 9, 2019


Adapted from an original post available here:

Last weekend I spent a few hours with Jess Frazelle. We talked about a lot of things: product, making software, navigating big companies, journalism, and leadership.

“When the pursuit of natural harmony is a shared journey, great heights can be attained. “ — Lynn Hill

We learned that we have a lot in common when it comes to how we lead our teams and what we strive for as leaders in our organizations. We also learned that as we grow in our careers, we’re both tasked with more complex, riskier, and larger challenges. We are making decisions that have impact bigger than any scope we’ve managed before. Neither of us are one to back down from a challenge, and both of us felt the need to build a tool to help us navigate complexity when we’re in the thick of it.

So we built the Leadership CI, a tool that we intend to evolve as we grow, one that will guide us when we’re up against a challenge, and something that keeps us in check — a gift from our past selves.

We wrote it in a gist and wrote about about the why this is so important on Jess’s blog.

Why a gist? Because we can track progress over time with the diff. Sometimes weencounter new information that helps us grow and learn new things. A gist captures that journey.

The Leadership CI

Do I want to die on this hill?

  1. Pass: This is morally good and if not handled has long term consequences.
  2. Fail: This is self serving.

Am I including everyone?

  1. Pass: My ego is not driving this conversation.
  2. Fail: The people in this conversation will only tell me I’m right and not push back.

Am I hiding something?

  1. Pass: The information, though painful, is known to all.
  2. Fail: Yes.

Is there transparency here?

  1. Pass: The team agrees on context and can repeat it back to me.
  2. Fail: Hidden misalignment (test: what do we align on).

Am I being curious?

  1. Pass: I’m asking questions that make me uncomfortable, and I’m comfortable being wrong.
  2. Fail: I want my way.

Is my team afraid to tell me things?

  1. Pass: They freely and continually come to me with answers and information that they know I will not like.
  2. Fail: They go to each other or people outside the team with the information, and telling me what they think I want to hear.

Am I only communicating with the same people over and over?

  1. Pass: My sphere of influence is diverse. I feel comfortable talking with anyone on the team.
  2. Fail: I continually consult the same individuals (test: do I have entourage?).

Do I feel insecure?

  1. Pass: I feel empowered and am willing to take feedback and risks regardless of the outcome as it’s good for the company and the customer.
  2. Fail: I retreat, I am not comfortable, I am not giving up the information because I am scared of what people will think.

Can my team do the job I hired them to do? Is the job they are hired to do the job that needs to be done?

  1. Pass: The team ships outcomes efficiently.
  2. Fail: The team is not empowered and often stalls (test: do I often have to intervene?).

Are you scratching an itch?

  1. Pass: This is a problem that’s bigger than myself.
  2. Fail: It may feel good to solve this problem but only for myself and temporarily.

Am I being judgmental?

  1. Pass: Do I trust my team and their decisions?
  2. Fail: Is someone speaking up and telling me that I’m being judgmental?

Am I taking risks?

  1. Pass: I feel comfortable and confident that this decision will lead to positive and fruitful outcomes.
  2. Fail: I am being a pushover, and I am compromising in the wrong ways.

Am I being manipulative?

  1. Pass: I’m being honest, real, straightforward and I’m OK with the outcome and hearing ‘no’.
  2. Fail: I’m intentionally using words that aren’t representative of what I’m trying to communicate.

Am I speaking for people or letting them speak for themselves?

  1. Pass: I am doing the minority of the speaking and people are disagreeing with my opinions.
  2. Fail: I am being quoted back to myself. I am talking the majority of the time.



Kathy Korevec

Currently working as a VP of Product at Vercel. I write a lot about Product management and building developer tools.