How Belonging to The Watercooler Community Helps Me Grow as a Leader?

After six weeks of being a member of The Watercooler community, it seems crystal clear to me that such tribes bring real value. Maybe I’m biased since I’ve always been a believer of tribes in general, but it’s definitely a huge learning opportunity.


Later edit: meanwhile, I’ve become an ambassador of The Watercooler, and I shared more about what I learnedso far on Know You Company’s blog. It’s a pleasure to represent this thrilling community and be in touch with brave people all around the world.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with The Watercooler, here’s the long story short. Claire Lew, CEO of Know Your Company, kicked‐off this tribe to narrow the gap between leaders from all over the world by sharing knowledge and lessons learned. Today, there are around 700 A‐players active in this ecosystem, and the circle is getting bigger and better.


Leadership, as any other management concepts, can be tricky to understand and internalise. For some people the word itself only fits the corporate world, while for others equals a mandatory role inside any company. No matter the size nor the processes.

At Pixelgrade, we believed from day one in the lead‐by‐example approach and it kind of works even today. We’re still embracing this mantra, but it’s obvious that being a leader became much more than a fancy buzzword. It implies ton of hard work and consistency.


There are around six weeks since I’m keeping track with various debates in The Watercooler universe. I learned quite fast that all the leaders out there are drained by the same problems, even though the cultural aspects are often different. In the end, leadership is all about people and their desires, their anxieties, their ambitions.

I strongly believe that this tribe is helping me grow as a leader and a professional as well. There are three specific areas in which I feel that TW brings me huge worth.

There are no recipes, no how‐to documents, no checkboxes that guarantee you will nurture healthy professional relationships.

#1 — Communication and alignment

We’re living in a word where we have the expectation that if people know the specs they will succeed. Just show them the destination, they will get there sooner or later.

I was surprised to notice how much time some leaders invest in steadily reinforcing the vision, hiring, and long‐term strategy. It’s a never‐ending task on their list, and they make efforts to spend resources of all kinds to make it happen.

I must confess that sometimes I take communication for granted aka it‐happens‐all‐the‐time in a natural way. How naive of me! The truth is that nobody will empower the team just for the sake of it. Nobody will face conflicts if you don’t do it first. Nobody will manifest tolerance and empowerment if you’re not showing it on a regular basis.


#2 — People and the human touch

As leaders, the core challenge is related to understanding the complexity of people. There are no recipes, no how‐to documents, no checkboxes that guarantee you will nurture healthy professional relationships. On the other side, there are several paths to improve the dialogue, to practice empathy, to ask better questions and to get meaningful results.

I saved plenty of resources and quotes from the leaders in The Watercooler community, and while they’re not a solution per se, they’re definitely a valuable entry point.

However, the ping‐pong of ideas is the most relevant for someone like me because I deeply resonate with real situations managed by real people in real life. This is the right spot to discover such stories.

You have plenty of chances to avoid some hard lessons and gather small wins faster and safer.


#3 — Roles and responsabilities

Being a leader makes it quite tempting to act like a hero and try to solve all sort of things by yourself. You know it better in the end, right? Not really.

One of the main goals as a leader is to help people step out of their comfort zone, to help them expand their skill set, to embrace more challenges in a safe environment, to give before they get. It’s true that leaders wear multiple hats, but this doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t try at least to borrow some of them.

The guys and gals of The Watercooler helped me realise that this is conclusive for a leader and it highlights if he or she does a great job or not. It’s nobody else’s mission to be up‐to‐date with the big picture, and to create the best playground for people to shine.


Beside all these non‐tangible perks, The Watercooler community won me as a member also thanks to the great experience they’re providing. The onboarding is great, the gamification is engaging (loved earning those badges), the dedicated AMA (Ask Me Anything) sessions are inspiring.


If you’re a leader in your organization or plan to be, The Watercooler tribe is the right place to kick‐off. By belonging there you have plenty of chances to avoid some hard lessons and gather small wins faster and safer. I’m excited to explore what’s next, but I’m already thrilled that I have discovered Claire Lew a year ago. I hope one day I’ll be a leader as good as her. Maybe you want that too.

Oana Filip

Oana Filip is a digital storyteller @Pixelgrade and community builder for creative industries. A true believer in the power of making the world a better place.