Sunday, November 26, 2006

Leadership and Management

There is no one leader. Typically there is one manager. The leader rises to the occasion and situation. Leader is not a title once bestowed and thusly endures, but it is a adjective for a moment. Granted there are great leaders but what makes them great? Is it that the occasion and situation in which they rise is a situation with a fundamental concern such of freedom or religious belief? Is it that the situation itself is of great concern?

For instance let me give an example concerning the founding of the United States of America (based upon my opinion that the founding of the USA is a great and good thing). A leader arises in a situation to give guidance and share knowledge. The masses of people that lived in the colonies did not come to a common and practical definition of government. The common people may not have ever defined a government and constitution. However the fundamental need was something that was understood or was spreading in popularity. Those that had opinion, education, experience, and vision concerning sovereignty, how power can be used and misused, and other pertinent issues rose to the occasion. These leaders left behind a document outlining what should be valued and what should be shunned. This document then is used in the managing of the affairs.

The "work place" tries to identify a leader and then assign them the task of being "the" leader from that point forward. Maybe it comes from military like organizations, maybe not, I do not know. Just because you were brilliant in one situation does not mean you will be so again in a different situation.

Is a leader measured by his followers? I would think not. The follower can only be measured by how well the follower studies and internalizes the teachings of the leader. That is why I say that one should always understand the fundamental reasons behind a method. Lets say that some "leaders" in software development propose that testing first is better than testing later. I want to know why it may be true and I care less about who said it. As the follower if I understand they why's then I can manage myself and I do not have to be lead continuously.

What if a leader has no followers? It does not reflect that the person did not rise above a situation. Maybe this person was in a unique situation. Or maybe the others in the same situation are blind to the advantage that the leader expounds. The number of followers do not validate or invalidate the leader.

In business the number of people that are under a Manager is important. Head count is an essential part of the leverage and power of a manager in business. This head count should not be confused with "followers" but honestly is more inline with the concept of "cattle and ownership".

I do not believe that Management is a science and Leadership and art. As a matter of fact I do not even separate science and art.

Do we leave tactical issues to Leaders and strategic issues to Managers? I find this to be overly simplistic.

Leaders help define a set of guidelines for the situation as they traverse the situation.

A fundamental attribute of a leader is selflessness. This is not a necessary or needed attribute of a manager. A leader is willing to suffer the results of his guidance along with those that follow. If there is a group that is following a leader and the group fails the leader does not blame the group for being poor followers but instead accepts responsibility for leading those that followed and usually blames himself for not having an better understanding of those individuals that were following. Management behaves differently is this situation.

I do not feel that any other list of leadership attributes come close to that of selflessness.

Can everyone be a leader? Yes in that I think we are all equal in capacity (generally). Will everyone seize an opportunity to lead when it presents itself? No. Not in my opinion. Even if someone is capable of leading in a situation there are infinite reasons why the person may chose to not act.

Here is a snippet on a paper I wrote that includes sections on leadership and management.


Maverick Development is based on leadership. Leadership is something above management. All leaders have management skills. The converse is not true. The bar has to be raised on managers. They have to be leaders.

Agile methodologies depend upon emergent processes. Managers cannot control this type of process because of its very nature. Maverick Development goes where ever is necessary to get the work done. When an unexpected situation arises we do not plod along the same path just because the directions say to go that way. Instead, in Maverick, we say, "Hmm, an unforeseen problem. What should we do? Go on? Go back? Go around? ... "

Leadership cannot be taught. Quoting Dr. Huge Nibley,

"At the present time, Captain Grace Hoper, that grand old lady of the Navy, is calling our attention to the contrasting and conflicting natures of management and leadership. No one, she says, ever managed men into battle, and she wants more emphasis on teaching leadership. But leadership can no more be taught than creativity or how to be a genius. The Generalstab tried desperately for a hundred years to train up a generation of leaders for the German army, but it never worked, because the men who delighted their superiors (the managers) got the high commands, while the men who delighted the lower ranks (the leaders) got reprimands. Leaders are movers and shakers, original, inventive, unpredictable, imaginative, full of surprises that discomfit the enemy in war and the main office in peace. Managers, on the other hand, are safe, conservative, predictable, conforming organizational men and team players, dedicated to the establishment.

The leader, for example, has a passion for equality. We think of great generals from David and Alexander on down, sharing their beans or maza with their men, calling them by their first names, marching along with them in the heat, sleeping on the ground and being first over the wall. A famous ode by a long-suffering Greek soldier named Archilochus, reminds us that the men in the ranks are not fooled for an instant by the executive type who thinks he is a leader.

For the manager, on the other hand, the idea of equality is repugnant and indeed counterproductive. Where promotion, perks, privilege and power are the name of the game, awe and reverence for rank is everything and becomes the inspiration and motivation of all good men. Where would management be without the inflexible paper processing, dress standards, attention to proper social, political and religious affiliation, vigilant watch over habits and attitudes, etc., that gratify the stockholders and satisfy security? ... Managers do not promote individuals whose competence might threaten their own position, and so as the power of management spreads ever wider, the quality deteriorates, if that is possible. In short, while management shuns equality, if feeds on mediocrity... For the qualities of leadership are the same in all fields, the leader being simply the one who sets the highest example; and to do that and open the way to greater light and knowledge, the leader must break the mold. " A ship in port is safe," says Captain Hopper, speaking of management, 'but that is not what ships were built for," she adds, calling for leadership... True leaders are inspiring because they are inspired, caught up in a higher purpose, devoid of personal ambition, idealistic and incorruptible... So vast is the discrepancy between management and leadership that only a blind man would get them backwards... "

It is a common known practice when hiring and retaining software engineers to retain what is referred to as the 10x performers. Maverick Development requires the same from its Leadership. Managers that are leaders will be 10x performers.

Trust is the key and here is what Mr. Semler had to say,

"We simply do not believe our employees have an interest in coming in late, leaving early, and doing as little as possible for as much money as their union can wheedle out of us. After all, these are the same people that raise children, join the PTA, elect mayors, governors, senators, and presidents. They are adults. At Semco, we treat them like adults. We trust them. We don't make our employees ask permission to go to the bathroom, nor have security guards search them as they leave for the day. We get out of their way and let them do their jobs."

No comments: