leadingIn(tech)#14: Small things, Done well. Part III; Allergic to Wisdom
Hi there! 👋🏽
After a few months of break, this is a new issue of the leadingIn.tech newsletter. I'm Roberto, and this is a place where I share ideas, practices, and learnings towards the journey of becoming a better leader in technology.
Probably you forgot you were subscribed to it, so I’ll try to make it short. There are multiple reasons I took a halt from writing but the first one was that I got caught in between changing jobs and summer break in between; well, the break extended a bit more than expected.
This issue is a continuation of the series dedicated to the book The Art of Leadership: Small Things, Done Well by Michael Lopp. The section I’ll cover today corresponds to a chapter dedicated to leaders in executive positions. Especially to those landing on a new company. The chapter revolves around how and when a person landing an executive leadership position should act to push changes in a pre-existing organization. Let’s explore.
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Part III: For Executives
This third act of the book is dedicated to emerging executives and the challenges it has, these kinds of positions are one step upper on the ladder and demand something extra from the leader, it’s no longer about managing a group of managers in a small organization, now you are responsible for an entire business or an organization. You are far away from the teams but at the same time, you are accountable for their outcomes. Usually, when fires fail to be handled up the chain they will escalate to you. As an executive, you will find yourself using your executive role to assign the right people to be on the front lines to put it out. But that's not your primary role, your role is to set the company for success and prevent the fires from starting in the first place.
Allergic to Wisdom
Startup companies as they grow create unique ways of doing things. And the people in it will firmly believe they can apply their uniqueness in all aspects of the organization, this can probably be justified as this was what made them successful in the first place. This usually translates into spending a lot of resources on innovating in areas where existing knowledge can be applied. In the book, this is referred to as “allergic to wisdom”.
But the truth is that not all aspects of the organization are the subject of innovation. And your job is to manage the resources of the organization as efficiently and effectively as possible to help your teams to move forward and keep innovating in the core areas where your company stands out from the crowd.
So, what do you do as an executive? You act, you don’t ask; you use your experience to identify those aspects where you can generate impact and just act upon it. You’ll share the vision and explain in detail where do we want to go next. You don’t say “back in <company name> we did it this way”, you just push the changes necessary to move the organization forward saving time and resources, even if they are not perfect at first. Then you’ll iterate.