At Uber, one of the most important values we always push and that took a big part in making Uber as successful as it is today, is being fierce.
Being fierce is very important for teams to work together, move fast, give continuous feedback and grow together.
It’s also an often mis-understood term, so I wanted to lay out what being fierce really means.

Be honest to yourself.

It is important not to be delusional. If you are not being honest with your own self about something not working or not being great, you are not giving yourself the opportunity to learn and do something about it.

Help others out of delusion

  • Once you are able to be honest with yourself and not be delusional, you can then help other do the same.
  • Being without deception means accepting reality and is very important.
  • Be truthful with yourself and with others, to create trust.
  • Stop lying or avoiding information (“I won’t meet a deadline”, “I don’t know how to fix the problem”).
  • Avoidance brings exacerbation of problems and destroys the trust that you built.

Ability to give negative feedback

Giving positive feedback is easy and feels good. It’s almost selfish, because it actually generates more good to yourself than the person you are giving feedback to. Being fierce is all about giving negative (but constructive!) feedback. It’s hard because of the fear of hurting people and you want to avoid awkward conversations. Negative feedback is crucial to allow others to be aware of what they do wrong and need to improve.

General advice to make those conversations easier (“OFER”)

  • Neutral Observation: “You were 5 minutes late to the meeting” (vs “God, you’re always late!”)
  • Express Feelings: “This makes me feel like our meeting is devalued” (vs “You devalue the meeting”)
  • Clarify Expectations: “Everyone needs to be on time to the meeting so we don’t start late”
  • Express Request: “Please be on time to the next meeting”

This allows the conversation to be neutral and non-judgemental. Objective observation and discussion about a problem is easier and brings less confrontation. It feels less personal.

Usually, asking yourself “what are you not saying, that needs to be said?” is a good start to figure out when you are being delusional and avoiding (to tell) the truth.