Who has been a great leader in your career and what made them a great leader?
Given the fact that I’m pretty young (26 for those curious) I’m only on my second manager in my true IT career. However with my first manager Jim, I spent almost 5 years under in varying stages of my career.
I first started my career at SWFWMD (Southwest Florida Water Management District) as an intern in their applications group as a web developer. My first experience with Jim was when I got in trouble because I brought in my laptop to do work and plugged in to the network and I went undetected for a few weeks before I got caught (whoops). Jim, at that time, was kind of shadowing our-then IT manager as Jim was slated to take her place after retirement. Jim scared the ever-living hell out of me. After graduation I came back to SWFWMD as a desktop technician and by that time Jim has ascended in to the manager role. Under Jim’s management he had very explicit plans for his section and wanted to make sure his people were up to snuff so to speak. Sometimes his ways were a bit strict but I’ll be damned if he didn’t back his people when it mattered. One of the strengths that Jim has is that he is a huge proponent of education and bettering yourself and strongly enourages his employees in that vein. A thing I liked is that he bought purchased an online training tool and sat down with each of us and laid out his expectations for us in terms of our position and customized a learning path for us in this tool.
At this point of the post you’re probably thinking “yeah, he was…managing, big whoop”. Yes, he was doing what a good manager does but it was the “other stuff” that made him a great leader. At a department retreat we had a consultant come in and do some team-building using the Kepner-Tregoe method. At one point she asked each section within IT who made the decisions in our group (or who was the leader, can’t recall exact phrasing) . Our section laughed when we heard that and all fingers pointed to Jim. This excercise was just an indicator of how strong a leader he was. The other thing I really liked about him was his ability to sit down with you and have a no-BS person-to-person talk. My personal situation at SWFWMD was complicated due to my mother being in a sensitive political position over there. Jim helped me throughout the years deal with the problems that caused every so often. He helped me out a few times when I really broke down and for that I’ll forever be grateful. Jim’s other strength was his ability to look beyond next week. He was always thinking 3 steps ahead in terms of personnel placement and technology adoption. This method has payed off well and to this day SWFWMD is one of the local businesses that is a technology innovator and leader. A testament to this is that Jim is the leader of the Tampa Area VMware User Group!
I’ve rambled enough so let’s see if we can’t get some others to spill their guts!
Chuck Boyce Jr. (aka chuckboycejr) – Works for Quest and got to spend some quality time with in chat during SSWUG Virtual conference
Ward Pond (aka sqltwit) – Another local guy (to me) and hopefully I’ll get to meet at next SSUG meeting
Andy Leonard – I’m not even sure if he has a blog but he just got promoted to managing his ETL team and I’d like to hear his story.
Just FYI, if I follow you on Twitter you’re pretty much in my pool of candidates for tagging in the future.