Wednesday, April 15, 2009

SQL Quiz : Who has been a great leader in your career and what made them a great leader?

I was tagged by Chris Shaw in his latest SQL Quiz.

As Chris mentioned, great leaders and great managers are not always embodied in the same person. I take this a bit further, and a person may even have flashes of being a great leader or manager or both, and not sustain it. It is difficult to sustain both, but it can be accomplished.

1 bad example was a boss I had recently. His idea was that his people needed training. They needed time set aside for said training. It was understood that you would find the time and get the training you could. This was rather vague and open ended. I completely agree that a company should allow its people receive training, in many different forms, and it should be allowed. The downfall was that no follow through occurred. It would have been better if there was a structure, suggestions, reporting, and so on, on our progress and training. But now. So, that would be an anti-example. But it was headed in the correct direction.
My suggestion here is to create a plan of action to follow through, if this is a goal that you as a manager have. Make it happen. Make it make a difference in the lives of your employees. Not just a 'talk about'.

Let me now give you a good example of a manager and leader. As DBA's, we often work strange hours. This lifestyle is difficult to get used too. I have been in many jobs in IT where I was expected to be in my desk between 8 and 5. If I was not at my desk, it was assumed I was not working. We know that this is not the case, most of the time. This habit was ingrained into me in such a fashion that I had a hard time with a job that required odd hours of work. Some weeks, I would end up working my normal block of 40 hours, only to find that I needed to work 10-20 hours after hours. The expectation that I had was that my boss would somehow 'know' what was going on, and reward me with comp time. As this perceived reward never materialized, I grew increasingly frustrated. This soon became apparent, to my manager. In the best way possible, I would describe my frustrations of how much I was working, how much extra, all the personal events that I was missing, and so on. His response took me off guard. He asked me why I had allowed this to occur. My response to this was, 'what a jerk!' He should have seen how hard I was working and given me that 'reward'. We went on to talk, and I learned some great lessons. He didn't feel that it was his job to ensure that I was not being overworked. He had laid the groundwork of this, set the policies, and expected us to comply. It was within me and under my control to comply and thus, live my work life appropriately.

Granted that this interaction seems short and enlightened here, it was more painful and grueling to work through in my head. The point was he was not only teaching me how to fish, but dumping me on the banks of a river, and letting me do it on my own.
He managed his employees expectations of a work/personal life balance. He lead with example. He expected us to simply comply and have a better life for it.
It has taken some practice, but its a much better life on this side of the fence because of it.

I guess my point here was that a great leader and manager can coexist. They have to see the problems, come up with solutions, continually manage the people until they became habitualized with the new way of doing it, then let them do it on their own. Then he would move onto the next task, and repeat. It has been an interesting journey to watch and travel. Work life balance has improved, moral has improved, quality of work has improved. And its not over. Its a continual battle.

I am tagging the following people.
Kendal Van Dyke (who was tagged by BrentO already)
Pat Wright
Tim Ford

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