- Van Sarki
- Hinge founder and CEO Justin McLeod doesn’t have email on his smartphone.
- He said it makes him a better leader because he has time and space to think, and doesn’t get wrapped up in the minutia of running a business.
- McLeod sometimes disconnects from his team for weeks at a time for the same reason.
- Other successful leaders also try to disconnect, so they can engage in some big-picture thinking.
In the last few months, Justin McLeod has found himself to be a much better leader, and a much happier person.
McLeod, who is the founder and CEO of dating app Hinge, didn’t go to a management seminar or hire an executive coach. He simply deleted the email app from his smartphone.
In fact, the only things he can currently do with his phone are check the time, make calls and send texts, listen to music, and browse Hinge.
“I’m a much better decision-maker, I’m a much better strategist, I’m a much better leader when I’m not wrapped up in the minutia of what’s going on in the company and what’s going on in the world,” McLeod told Business Insider. “I’m giving myself the space.”
To the average working professional, cutting yourself off from email might seem unimaginable. And McLeod manages one of the most popular dating apps in the US, which has so far raised a total of $20.6 million, according to Crunchbase. Presumably, there are a lot of people vying for his attention on time-sensitive matters.
But McLeod’s decision is part of a broader management strategy that involves slowing the pace of running a tech company.
Many leaders say disconnecting facilitates necessary big-picture thinking
McLeod also told Business Insider that he tries to “cut off from work a couple times a year.” When he takes vacations, he doesn’t check in with his staff for “a week or two at a time.”
He said, “That helps me clarify my thoughts, when I’m not sucked up in the instant day-to-day operations of Hinge.”
In fact, McLeod made the decision to “reboot” Hinge, in 2016, while he was away from the office and spending Thanksgiving with his family.
With the time and space to think clearly, he realized that Hinge had become too similar to other dating apps on the market and wasn’t living up to its mission of helping users get into meaningful relationships. Hinge subsequently made a number of changes to the app, most notably removing the swiping feature. Today, it bills itself as “the relationship app.”
As a leader who finds that disconnecting facilitates big-picture thinking, McLeod is in good company.
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has said that he takes six weeks of vacation every year. “Just as you would expect, you often do your best thinking [when] you’re off hiking in some mountain,” Hastings told Andrew Ross Sorkin, New York Times columnist and DealBook founder. “You get a different perspective on something.”
Meanwhile, Virgin Group founder Richard Branson told Entrepreneur that, when he goes on vacation, he leaves his smartphone at home or in a hotel room for as long as possible. “Freed from the daily stresses of my working life, I find that I am more likely to have new insights into old problems and other flashes of inspiration,” Branson said.
“As an entrepreneur or business leader, if you didn’t come back from your vacation with some ideas about how to shake things up, it’s time to consider making some change,” Branson said.