Posted by : Deepak Vasudevan Saturday, October 18, 2003

I was quite in tensed and depressed mood perhaps sometime last week. One of my friend sent me some URL and articles on leadership to keep me motivated and keep up the spirits. I really loved the Leadership Qualities for Personnel in Technical Domains that I almost spent that night till about 3:30 trying to understand it. It is really a very excellent piece of article. In fact, my heart-felt thanks to the author.  Perhaps this ten points on leadership, which I got via mail, I would like to share with the readers of my blog. Perhaps I would consider this as a kind of Ten Commandments for a Leader in Software Industry.  

Out of my own interest and curiosity, I just went to google andput the the first line to find out where this content actually came from. It was from this URL: http://www.isoquantic.com/RandRs/SWLeadership.html


1. BUSINESS LITERACY

Software operations leaders who are now technology-oriented must increasingly see themselves as business leaders. To be business literate, leaders must
  • be aware of customer needs, competitor activities, and market trends, and how these impact in-house development initiatives;
  • understand the financial and economic dynamics of the software industry and make well informed decisions about product and technology investment;
  • set clear and objective business goals and hold people accountable for achieving them; and
  • take personal responsibility for financial results (good and bad).

2. TECHNOLOGY VISION

To help their companies compete, leaders of software operations must establish a compelling, long-range vision for technology investments. Visionary leaders must
  • keep up-to-date on emerging technologies
  • bring together people from all organizational levels to develop a common vision of success and get their commitment to work toward that vision;
  • communicate the vision consistently and encourage open discussion and feedback about the company's direction; and
  • use the vision as a "litmus test" for making decisions about new technology investments.

3. CROSS-FUNCTIONAL ORIENTATION

The world of rigid, functional "silos" in most organizations is gone forever. Software operations leaders must become adept at working with people performing various functions across the enterprise, including those in marketing, customer support sales, and so on. To work across functions, leaders must
  • understand the roles and interests of all stakeholders in the software development process and how each role contributes to the product's success;
  • establish effective working relationships with leaders from other functional areas and involve them in decisions that affect their work, and
  • demand a high level of cross-functional cooperation and teamwork from your own team and the organization as a whole.

4. STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP MANAGEMENT

The need for organizations to establish partnerships and alliances for sharing technologies and developing new products will continue to increase. Managers of software operations will be required to develop partnership strategies and manage them for success. To do this, leaders must
  • know when strategic partnerships are required to make a software development effort successful (such as in "make" versus "buy" decisions);
  • establish an overall strategy that defines specific objectives, benefits, and metrics for using strategic partners;
  • understand how to identify, negotiate, and select appropriate strategic partnerships;
  • manage the tension between collaboration and competition that is inherent to most strategic partner relationships; and
  • recognize when a partnership is no longer advantageous and know how to successfully end the relationship.

5. CUSTOMER RELATIONS

With the move to a competitive, profit-oriented business model in software, leaders must increasingly interact directly and at higher executive levels with both prospective and existing customers. To succeed in this, leaders must
  • comfortably interact with customers from a wide range of businesses, industries, and technical backgrounds;
  • make persuasive, high-level presentations to executives and senior leaders in sales and marketing situations;
  • translate highly technical information into terms that nontechnical customers and end users can understand;
  • deal effectively with the technical and public media on behalf of the business; and
  • act as a customer advocate in all business dealings.

6. TOTAL QUALITY DISCIPLINE

Two factors have increased the urgency of quality improvement at all levels in the software industry: rapidly growing financial investment in software systems and products, and the institution of international software quality standards. To help answer this call, leaders must
  • initiate and sponsor efforts to increase product quality;
  • establish aggressive standards for software quality and customer satisfaction;
  • encourage people to experiment with innovative technical and work processes that might lead to quality and productivity breakthroughs;
  • find ways to remove barriers to quality improvement across the enterprise; and
  • establish firm goals and metrics for software quality, and measure leaders and teams for progress toward goals.

7. MARKET DECISIVENESS

Although time-to-market has always been a critical success factor for any high-technology business, it has become a matter of survival for software enterprises. In an increasingly competitive market, this "need for speed" is placing increasing pressure on leaders to accelerate the development and delivery of new products and services. To contend with this pressure, leaders must
  • aggressively seek and take advantage of new business or technology opportunities;
  • make fast decisions under pressure with incomplete data;
  • understand how and when to balance the need for analysis and consensus with the pressure to execute;
  • make tough decisions about where to invest limited resources to achieve the greatest market advantage; and
  • create an environment where aggressive market orientation and decisive action are recognized and rewarded.

8. TECHNICAL TEAMWORK

Most high-technology organizations are moving toward flatter, team-based work structures. This makes team communication, problem solving, and decisiveness critical; software leaders must both model and reinforce these behaviors. To reinforce team effectiveness, leaders must
  • be a role model of effective collaboration with individual leaders and software project teams;
  • establish mechanisms for consistent information sharing and open communication across development teams, functions, and the entire software operation;
  • minimize unnecessary project competition and "us versus them" thinking;
  • delegate authority for technical and business decisions to the lowest logical levels; and
  • institute team-oriented rewards where appropriate, recognizing both group accomplishments and individual contributions.

9. KNOWLEDGE DEVELOPMENT

Because software is almost exclusively a "knowledge business," software operations are competitive to the extent that they can attract, retain, and develop the best technical and marketing talent. Thus, leaders must provide development opportunities that will ensure the continued professional and career growth of individuals and add to the organization's overall knowledge store. In addition to evaluating and planning for their own technical and professional needs, leaders must
  • have an explicit employee training and development strategy, with clear objectives and metrics;
  • define and develop "core competencies"-key technical and business knowledge areas needed for future success;
  • identify people with significant technical or management potential and ensure that they have targeted development plans; and
  • be available to employees for individual coaching.

10. LEADERSHIP VERSATILITY

Software development is getting more diverse and complex on many levels-business, organizational, cultural, and technological. Managers must become versatile to lead effectively across different business models and work settings. To do this, they must
  • adjust quickly to changing business needs and organizational requirements;
  • communicate effectively and comfortably across a range of technical, cultural, and international boundaries;
  • use various management models and project structures-rather than "one size fits all"-to find the best fit for diverse business and technology strategies;
  • balance a "loose-tight" management style that encourages experimentation and innovation but also demands accountability for contribution and results; and
  • create an environment that values and optimizes everyone's intellectual contribution.

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