Saturday, June 12, 2010

Manager versus leader

A manager knows all the rules; a leader knows all the exceptions.


Sean Heritage said...

Leaders and managers are both important roles and we all find ourselves playing both, in addition to follower, depending on the scenario. In a Carly Fiorina PODcast which I listen to repeatedly, she distinguishes the two in a way that struck a chord with me. To paraphrase...

Managers are tasked to produce acceptable results within known constraints and conditions, while leaders seek to change the order of things.

There are many good managers out there, but embracing the role of leader requires one to accept a certain level of risk and accept that we may fail in the process. The challenge is turning individual managers into synchronized leaders and collaborative followers. We have the tools, we just need to make it a deliberate choice.  

Captain - Special Duty Cryptology said...

Good stuff Sean. Thanks for the comments.

General Quarters said...

"Would I go to war with him?" Your answer should indicate all you need to know about your subject's leadership, managerial, operational, technical and interpersonal skills, as well as his general ethos. Taught to me by a mentor who was highly decorated for multiple, sustained combat operations.

Anonymous said...

Sean Heritage,

Carly Fiorino no doubt has a talent for business, and she chose to make changes for change sake. Is that leadership? When she fought for and won a Compaq, H/P merger the talk was that this would be the blind leading the blind, of course, this was from the competition and what else could be expected? Within a few years of that merger she was relieved for lack of confidence. The board evidently got tired of change.

Now Carly Fiorino is a politician, running for US Senator from Califorina, and the one thing that I hear about her is that she said the person she is running against has a poor choice of hairstyles. Is that leadership?

Very Respectfully,

IWO JO said...

I think we can all learn a lot from Ms. Fiorina. With a BA in Medieval History and enough shameless self-promotion, you too can ruin a Fortune 20 tech company, drive away all the real talent, and eventually aspire for political office!

"You manage things, you lead people. We went overboard on management and forgot about leadership. It might help if we ran the MBAs out of Washington." -- Grace Hopper

LCDR Bob Morrison said...

RADM Hopper had it right

Anonymous said...


I did not recognize the quote by Grace Hopper, and I was privileged to work under her direction back in the late 1960’s. She was at that time a Full Commander in the US Navy and a digital expert for Navy armament and associated equipment, she was in charge of the programming of the Poseidon Missile System for Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarines. I was at the time stationed on the USS Observation Island (EAG154) homeported at Port Canaveral, Florida, and was responsible for the control and launch of the first at sea Poseidon Missiles. I was the senior enlisted person in charge of that missile launching system.

When Cdr. Hopper reported aboard the Observation Island with her crew of software engineers she introduced herself and her associates and asked if she could enter targeting data into the Digital Geoballistic Computer (DGBC), I said, yes, Commander, and can I be of any assistance to you and your team. She said, no, Senior Chief but she requested that I stay in the Missile Control Center (MCC) during the procedure.

The Observation Island got underway a short time later and we were steaming in a Northward direction at max speed (about 21 knots). I stayed in MCC during this time and insured that the missile fire Control equipment was operating at the nominal state. Commander Hopper soon found that the DGBC would not allow the Fire Control System to come to a ready state, it locked out any missiles from being able to accept target information. The reason for this problem was the ship was exceeding the maximum speed for missile launch. Commander Hopper then asked me if would go to the Captain of the Observation Island and request that we reduce speed to 3 kts or less. I told the Commander that I probably should not do that because our other mission required the ship to be on station at a certain time; I further let her know that I thought I could correct the problem without slowing ships speed. She responded with “show me Senior Chief”. We went to the computer and I told her that I would have to change the computer program so it would not be aware the ship was exceeding maximum ships speed for missile launch. I told the Commander exactly what I was going to do and her comment at the time was “how do you know these things Senior Chief? You are not even allowed to have a program listing for the tactical missile launch program”. I responded with “yes, Commander, but I do have to know how the system operates and what is taking place in the computer during the operation of the tactical missile launch program.” After I explained what it was that I was going to do, she said again “show me Senior Chief”. I did as she requested and then told and showed her precisely what I was going to do. After I completed the necessary changes to the computer program it was found that the computer thought everything was normal and allowed targeting input.

I did not know at the time how significant Commander Hopper would be to the Navy and to the Poseidon Missile Program, I had no idea of her background and what contribution she would make to the Navy, and the understanding of digital computers and programming of these devices. But she was very impressed with how we United States Sailors could have the knowledge to understand what we did about this Poseidon Missile Launching System and its computer control.

Very Respectfully,