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23 February 2002 @ 06:23 pm
musings on leadership and such  
so lately work has got me thinking about the concepts of what makes a good leader and manager versus that of a bad one. yeah yeah there are plenty of books out there but these are thoughts that have been shoving around in my head for the last couple of days...
beware those who are managers in reading my thoughts, you may find some of it offensive


In a company, military, and other focused groupings of individuals with a goal, one of the major pieces that determines whether a goal is successfully achieved or not is the concept of leadership and management.

Q1. What makes a good leader?
several factors seem to help

1. Charisma
the innate (or grown/learned) talent to drawn in an individual through personality or appearance (or other physical/verbal mannerisms). This is a key factor as to why you would be drawn to the individual.

2. Delegation and decision making
the individual must have high competence in decision making. Such decision making includes the capability to delegate (decide who does what according to the skills involved and needed), to arbitrate (to decide between various opinions and make the correct judgment call), to make(jump to) the correct decision in the face insufficient information.

3. Respect
The individual must have the respect of those she leads. This respect will most often be based against the technical skills and the decision making the individual has. Should the individual be unable to match in the areas that the followers feel are important, respect is lost. (example: a person leading a team of engineers must have a level of knowledge in regards to the area of engineering that is needed to solve the problem set. this level does not necessarily mean the individual needs to have the knowledge to solve the solution, but rather has to have a level of understanding of the subject at hand so as to understand the basics of the problem)

4. Respect/empathy for the individuals she leads
The individual must understand the personality and the motivations of the people she leads. The individual also must have respect (and show this respect) for the skills that the various individuals bring to the table.

5. 'Leading as a Service' mind set - Best interest rule
the individual must have the goals of the group AND the various people she leads' goals in mind. Leading is a service. The individual serves the others and the goals at hand. (This is the key to keeping loyalty) (this whole thing could be linked with humility)

6. Honesty
the individual must be honest with the people she leads- no matter how hard the facts are.

7. Vision of the goal
the individual must have and understand the goal/vision of the group. this goal and vision must be strong enough and encompass enough for the group to handle and want. (sometimes the individual may have the specific vision and must 'sell' this vision to the group)

8. Communication
the individual must be able to communicate her ideas and the vision/goal well, as well as be diplomatic when necessary.

The above 8 are the basics (I may have left some out but oh well).
Interesting enough I have observed friends and coworkers who have almost all of the qualities listed except for #5. #5 - the service mind set- seems to be the hardest one to achieve as it seems go against the grain of what most find 'leading' to be. How does one choose to be a leader (have ambition) and yet be the one who is serving the others? In retrospect #5 seems obvious and yet, since ego often becomes a problem with individuals in power over others (sometimes the perception is that the leader is the group), it seems to pass over the heads of those who are 'leaders'.

Q2. What makes a good manager?
if one were to assume that a good manager is basically an individual who leads then the qualities that make a good leader should apply to that of a good manager.

Q3. How does (now this is more business oriented but still applies to all cases) one figure out who is to be a leader (a good one)? (this is the meat of the long statement i am making)
It would seem that all but #2 and #3 can be sorted out through an interview process. However, #2 and #3 are things that are not judgable via a one shot (all day) interview with people. I would propose that they are testable.

#3 (respect) is based upon the skill of decision making (#2) and the skills involved that the people who are to be led judge by. An engineer would judge by what engineering knowledge and understanding (of the process) that the person has. A salesman would judge by whether the person can make a sale and understands the process involved. Etc etc. In short the judgment would be made against the skills that the people being led have or consider important to accomplish the task at hand. Again, the individual does NOT have to be an expert or be incredible at the skill but rather has the experience and understanding of the skill. This makes it easy to test whether the individual has the skill(s) necessary. For an engineering leader, one could test if she has the understanding of engineering process (problem solving), does the leader of soldiers know how to handle the weapons that are to be used, etc etc. One could even figure this out from the resume of the individual's experience to see if they have the skills necessary.

#2 is the skill of decision making. One could conceive of a test that would test whether the individual can discern what and when information is sufficient to make a judgment as well as whether the individual makes the intuitive leap of getting to the correct judgment when information is limited. This test could determine what I would call a 'DMQ' (DecisionMaking Quotient). (the test would use business cases as a means to create the question but the what one is trying to see is if the individual can determine an answer when the information is insufficient, whether the answer is a correct one, and how they determined it. key here is that unlike the Harvard Business Cases the goal is not to determine generic problem sets out of the cases and their solutions, but rather to isolate down the exact skill (decision making and intuitive conclusions) and determine how good the individual is at that skill (in short, this is about how well the person decides when given new problem sets). (hard to explain as im still formulating exactly how the test would look but i have a basic idea and it seems possible))

between the interview, resume, and 2 tests (possibly 1) perhaps one can determine whether an individual at the moment (i.e. this is not about determing future and current potential and growth but rather, present status) would be an effective manager/leader or not. This could possibly be resolved into a 'MQ' (Manager Quotient)

sadly enough i would have to say that most managers and leaders do not sufficiently have enough MQ (let alone DMQ) to be a good manager/leader. which is scary since this is what runs the world...

granted we have not begun to talk about determing whether an individual can match the level of skills and strengths needed for the task at hand.... (example: figuring out who should be the President of the US)
(perhaps one could assign a minimum MQ and DMQ levels needed for the task and then matching it with an individual who has at least those levels) (this of course is doubtful as it tends to be hard to determine some of the factors into some form of measurable number)
 
 
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Dominique: panda_ballgraphxgirl on February 23rd, 2002 06:43 pm (UTC)
here here! hooray! i am thinking of forwarding that entry to my boss. hehe.....

erica! that's her name mas.... i remembered it right after we got off the phone.