How to analyze a team with Crystal: Netflix Leadership

Lately, I've been using Crystal to analyze the leadership teams of my favorite companies.

Why am I doing this? A few reasons:

  • See if there are common patterns that emerge across the executive teams at successful companies.
  • See how much of an impact the Founder/CEO has on the personalities of the rest of their company (i.e. how strong is founder DNA?).
  • See if there are lessons or red flags that we can draw from the psychological profiles of these leadership teams.
  • See what differences exist between competitors (i.e. Uber vs Lyft) and how that impacts the future of their businesses.

So far, the results have been very interesting. I've discovered that:

  • Most executive teams (predictably) shade towards Dominance on the personality map, but within that region, they are wildly diverse from each other.
  • Leadership teams cluster (loosely) around their Founder on the personality map, implying that to some degree, founders tend to hire leaders with similar personality traits.
  • However, in terms of trait intensity, Founders are often outliers on their teams (i.e. they tend to be the most extreme version of their personality type among their peers).

I'm still on my own exploration through the data, so I don't have many answers, insights, or specific lessons to apply yet. However, I want to take you with me as I analyze these companies and learn.

Today, I'm looking at Netflix, America's new pastime.

Getting the personality profiles of the leadership team

When analyzing a team, the first step is to create personality profiles for each team member. Luckily, Netflix has a management team page on their website.

Screen Shot 2020-03-13 at 10.14.26 AM

I used this page to look up each of their executives on LinkedIn, starting with the founder, Reed Hastings. I clicked the "View Personality" button from the Crystal Chrome Extension.

netflix - view personality


netflix - profile

I continued this process for the 6 other executives listed, until I had a personality prediction for each of them (which were automatically saved on my Crystal dashboard).

Screen Shot 2020-03-13 at 10.22.59 AM

Building a Group Report

The next step in my analysis was to build a Group Report with these 7 personalities. To do that, I went to my Reports page and selected "3+ People".

netflex - group 3

Then, I selected the 7 new profiles that I just predicted.

Screen Shot 2020-03-13 at 9.57.22 AM


Screen Shot 2020-03-13 at 9.57.02 AM

With all 7 personalities, I named the report "Netflix Leadership Team" and generated it!

Interpreting the Group Report

After finishing all the prep work, I could then read and analyze the report, to try and make some sense of the data and see what the psychology of the Netflix executive team might be.

Screen Shot 2020-03-13 at 10.29.32 AM

At the top of the report, I first looked to the Group Overview and Personality Breakdown. This is a good summary for what to expect from this team dynamic:

This group is mostly full of natural leaders who combine big thinking and boldness, and are likely to be comfortable with calculated risk. The group's ability to make firm decisions and follow through on projects makes them powerfully effective. However, they may have difficulty understanding others' emotions or making more thoroughly researched choices.

I could immediately see that Reed's personality (Initiator/DI) is heavily embedded in the team's psychology. On the personality map, I could see how the rest of the team clustered towards the Initiator type, although with less extreme traits than their founder.

Screen Shot 2020-03-13 at 10.30.10 AM

In DISC terms, this team is almost exclusively positioned on the top half of the personality map. This means that, as a whole, the team is likely to:

  • Work at a fast, intense pace.
  • Be very comfortable with taking risks and making changes.
  • Learn more through trial and error rather than prolonged analysis.
  • Engage in frequent debate and competition.

As the personality highest on the map, it's clear why Hastings is the leading visionary on the team, and also why he needs more skeptical, pragmatic, and detail-oriented people around him.

I can relate (as our personality comparison demonstrates).

Screen Shot 2020-03-13 at 10.42.48 AM

Now, while most of the team is on the Dominance side of the map, there is one exception:

netflix - steady

According to Crystal's prediction, Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos is the only one on the other side of the personality map. It's important to note that this is a very low-confidence prediction (because there was very little data to analyze) so I needed to take the result with a grain of salt.

Still, the group report gave me some important insights about how this team might function, especially with so few people in the Steadiness and Conscientiousness regions of the personality map.

Here's what the potential strengths and blind spots of this team look like:

Screen Shot 2020-03-13 at 10.30.48 AM

Here's the typical role each person might play in a meeting:

Screen Shot 2020-03-13 at 10.30.39 AM

Let's say I had a sales meeting scheduled at Netflix, and somehow I got their entire executive team as an audience. According to the unique personalities in the room, here's how I should handle it:

Screen Shot 2020-03-13 at 10.30.33 AM

But what about the internal dynamics? How is each person likely to relate to the rest of the team? This report gave me some insights about that as well:

Screen Shot 2020-03-13 at 10.30.54 AM

Overall, we know that Netflix is an incredible successful company that has made some truly great decisions over the years. How much of that is because of the leadership team dynamic? We can only speculate.

However, I'm going to continue diving into these leadership teams to see if there are any patterns across the most successful ones. I'm not sure what I'll find yet, but it should be a fun adventure.

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