This book can be purchased at: http://ijgbooks.com/weeding.html
Today lets take a look at Chapter 4 “Is the vehicle more important than the destination?”
This chapter has a lot of material and I am just going to consider the part on different types of leaders. I leave the rest for you to read on your own.
Ibrahim starts the section on managerial types with the title “Legacy and Academics – The kiss of death”. He then goes on to describe three types of managers, Practical Leaders, Academic Leaders and Legacy Leaders.
He defines Practical Leaders as people who understand the business, its present and future requirements and that are capable of developing current and long term plans. They take into account things that might go wrong and can make changes to adapt their approach.
Academic Leaders are people who understand the business but have no clue how to optimize their vision. They are thinkers that have probably never had to actually deliver a product.
Legacy Leaders are people who are not strategic but have a proven track record for delivery. They tend to build on technology to recreate something that already exists.
I decided to paraphrase today rather than quote as the full definitions contain examples that drive the points home. I leave those for you to read.
I understand what Ibrahim is referring to with his descriptions of the different leader types. I have worked for all three types of people and depending on the project at hand, each type can be more or less effective. Academics inspire me to be creative and have been responsible for some of my most innovative work.
While working for Legacy Leaders, I was able to build lower cost phone systems that leveraged newer technology and Internet Telephony Service Providers (ITSP) to replace existing phone systems. The operating costs, installation and maintenance were a fraction of what they were for the old system, but they worked exactly the same way.
I would suggest to you that the Practical Leader is the one that brings out the absolute best in me. I have worked with Terry Matthews for a good portion of my career and he is a Billionaire because he understands what is possible, what is practical and when he needs it done. He has said on a number of occasions that “Timing is everything”. He understands his business and his people, communicates his plans and expectations clearly and keeps people engaged.
This post wouldn’t be complete without Ibrahim’s summary (Page 66):
“So if you join a project in its third year and the project was supposed to deliver benefits a year earlier, the project is a wanker.
If you join a project in which no one can explain to you the benefits of the overall project beyond your component, the project is really a wanker.
And if you join a project where you are told you are not smart enough to understand the big picture, the project is a wanker; its leader is a wanker, and you are a wanker for agreeing to stay. “
And so ends chapter 4…
Based on the criteria above, I have never been on a project that was a wanker. This is partly due to the fact that the teams and projects have been small enough to see and manage all the moving parts. Distributed projects at Newbridge tended to fail and were generally avoided.