Monday, August 4, 2014

The Leader - A Perspective And An Aspirational Model

What the leader is and does:

  • Attention to details & depth of understanding - relentless pursuit of perfectness in any deliverable. Seeks for beauty, concision, simplicity, clarity. Is not satisfied with default answers and quickly spots assumptions, both in his own reasoning and in others.

  • Autonomy & entrepreneurship - finds work for himself and his team. Helps his team develop their autonomy, through clear roles and responsibilities. Holds people accountable, thus he is perceived as a delegative and empowering leader. He is self-motivated by growth and achievement and tries to secure a bigger impact for himself and for his team.

  • Integrity - speak the truth, even if inconvenient . Does not take shortcuts in his work, even if sometimes it means taking the difficult path. Does not procrastinate. Does not hide anything. Commits and assumes responsibility for the results, either good or bad. Does not seek to blame others.

  • Collaborates for results with his peers and his manager. Manages transparently and brings tough subjects to the table confidently. Looks people in the eyes. Negotiates for win-win. Recognizes his team interest.

  • Curious and always learning - sees every interaction as an option to learn something new. Passionate about at least one field related to game production (programming, game design, project management, art)

  • Exceptional communicator - synthesis / analysis skills. Presentation skills - both in writing and verbal. Clarity and vision.  Adapts to his / her audience, up, down and across. Is able to express complex ideas in simple terms. Does not use meaningless wording. Seeks for beauty, concision, simplicity, clarity. Understands and assumes what he says and brings value to the communication.

  • Finisher - is capable not only to propose and start new initiatives, but also prioritize among different ones. When committing to a course of action, drives it to completion.

  • Results driven - keeps things simple by focusing on clear, measurable results. Understands that "implementation matters" and does not trade integrity for short-term gains.

  • Energy, optimism, social skills - people feel energized when he is in the room. Instills positive energy in the team. Cheers people up. Is well educated and knows how to behave in social situations (including meetings). Inspires confidence and expertise.

  • Visionary, strategic thinker and tactician, all in one - is able to think long term, define goals, chart plans and inspire people. Is able to zoom-out and zoom-in and work at different levels of detail.

  • Inclusive leader - is humble and self-confident. Relies on people and understands roles and responsibilities. Manages to make people feel accountable for their own results. Respects people and their point of view. Is able to drive the discussion towards rational arguments. Is able to call meetings and bring difficult subjects to the team for finding solutions.

  • Disciplined pursuit of daily activities - the team knows what to expect from him, he has a set of rituals and a transparent schedule.  Always on time, always predictable. Holds 1:1s, retrospectives and is constantly for lookout on how to improve processes.

  • Systemic view - Fixes the root causes, not the symptoms.  Has a systemic view of cause & effect and understands feedback loops.

A leader might be:

  • Project management expert or agile practitioner

  • Passionate  about engineering, product, design, quality, management, …

  • Motivated by power/impact and/or achievement

  • People oriented or product oriented - the things that matters are: people feel they are led to victory, they feel the project is good for their careers and that there is always something new to learn and improve.

  • Good public speaker

What the leader is not:

  • People pleaser (up-down-across) - These leaders are reluctant to take unpopular decisions and be open. They create an unhealthy environment of low performance and comfort around them, based on social networks and office politics. Also, they tend to "buy" support instead of challenging the teams for results.

  • Syndicalist leader - These leaders will always create a rift between the team and the management, pushing towards antagonism instead of alignment.

  • Passive aggregator of information - the leader adds value to any communication, by being able to summarize it and lead meaningful discussions with his peers, managers and team. He understands the requirements, the language, is able to extract the substance and act as an independent hub of knowledge.

  • Tyrant - The opposite of syndicalist leader. Disregards his team and is willing to take easily decisions that  affect his direct reports (salaries, free days, maternity leaves cuts, etc… )  in the name of company profit.

  • Non-committal and non-responsible - discusses people instead of results. Invents problems and likes office drama. Comes to rescue when conflict appears. Does not take responsibility for failure.

  • In only for himself - people around him and their successes don’t matter. All he cares is his career or proving his point of view. Focused on showing how good he is and how the results depended solely on himself.

  • Opaque to others ideas (up / down / across)  - not be mistaken for self-confidence. Self-confidence means exactly the opposite: showing vulnerability, willingness to learn, involving other people, asking for opinions.

  • A leader in the vacuum - willing to sacrifice collaboration and integrity for quick wins. Does not care about the impact of his actions on the future, people and projects around him.

  • Complainer - sees problems and possible improvements but fails to take action to remedy them.

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