Tuesday, December 19, 2006

What makes a good manager?

A few days ago I read about the skills to look for in a web analytics manager.

This reminded me of two things:

  1. Early in my career I read a book called “Becoming a technical leader”, by Ken Orr, where he highlighted the skills of a good leader, but also the fact that not everyone can/should follow what appears to be a natural path to management, and would be better off becoming a “guru” in their field of technical expertise. He highlights that "Innovation", "Motivation", and "Organization" are the three key components of being a technical leader.
  2. The second thought is that oftentimes, a good manager can "feel" your passion, your emotions, and your frustrations because he/she had a similar "way of the cross". We now hear more often that an MBA diploma doesn't have anything to do with being a good or a bad manager. Experience and enlightenment doesn’t come with a nice piece of paper...
As a closing point, I wanted to share the following anecdote:

Between 1994-1999 I worked for Softimage, at that time a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft. I was hired to put the anti-piracy mechanism into high-end 3D animation softwares used in special effects found in movies and games, but I was also the "webmaster" of softimage.com (check out how the site looked in 1997! The Wayback machine is soooo useful!).

Back to my story...

One day we had a visit from a Microsoft guy who's job was to travel the world and talk about security. I don't remember a darn thing about what he said, except this little statement:
Always make your boss look good
And he went on to explain that if the boss is really good, he will get a promotion and you will take his job. On the other hand, if he is a complete idiot, he will get fired and you will still get his job!