All about leadership…

Talking about unit testing and VS2008 professional – I ended up making a quote this week, it’s:

“Although Java people will roll their eyes at this, .NET people don’t take something serious until Microsoft does!”

I understand that this has several implications (good and bad) – but let me just cut to the interesting part. Why is the above, de facto? It’s about leadership. Microsoft, as an organization, is a healthy, competent “leader” that people WANT to follow. But what is a leader, exactly? That’s a word that is thrown around a lot throughout one’s career, but what does it really mean?

To me, leadership is 80% providing structure/guidance and 20% "other stuff".

I don’t mean this in an insulting way at all, but MOST people prefer someone to lead or provide direction. I know a lot of alpha personalities that would disagree, but that is different issue. The point is, being a leader is exhausting and only some are wired to be leaders – and even fewer have the REST of the abilities to be a GOOD leader!

I know more than a few alpha personalities that are very loud, dominant and are able to influence – but are horrible leaders. That’s many times because they don’t offer structure. Structure is much more important than we give it credit for. Think about it, what has lead you in this life? Things or people that have provided you structure:

  • Your parents told gave you a curfew and told you what time to sleep and eat.
  • Your college told you when your classes are and when assignments are due.
  • Your office tells you what hours they want you to work.
  • Civil engineers provided paved roads and specific areas within the roads (called lanes), where they want you to drive.
  • Your project manager works with you to create a schedule for your project.

Stop. Picture your same life, without this structure. Would we all drive to work on dirt paths that wound throughout the state? And would we all work different hours? How efficient could we be?

It’s even bigger than that – whenever something is going/has gone wrong, you can attribute that almost always to poor leadership (via lack of structure/lack of communication – communication is a big part of structure). Think back to the last thing that blew up at work – and think, “what if there was more structure?”.

How this applies to me personally or professionally – is that if someone is going to lead me, I demand that they are competent and that they provide structure, and I can be the best team player! But if not, I typically feel very compelled to offer structure, and most times it’s welcomed.

So getting back to Microsoft – I think it’s interesting, that a software company can assert so much positive influence with so little resistance or fuss from it’s Customers! I think because Microsoft has evolved into a competent company that delivers on promises, and does it with quality – that inspires people to follow. They offer structure and inspire, which is amazing for a headless “company” to do!

Compare that to just about any other company (software or not). Does Barnes & Noble inspire you? What about Wal*mart?!

Posted in Professional Development, Uncategorized

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