Becoming a Technical Leader, by Gerald M. Weinberg

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This was recommended to me by a friend as a great book on becoming a leader and manager.

The book reminds me of How to Win Friends and Influence People in that the advice is deceptively simple. If I had read this book even five years ago, I think I would have dismissed it as being simplistic and obvious. For instance, Weinberg describes problem-solving leadership as consisting of “understanding the problem”, “managing the flow of ideas”, and “maintaining quality”, which seem like completely generic management strategies. But with experience at several companies and with the examples that Weinberg uses, I can see how breakdowns in these areas will hamstring any project before it even starts. This is an example of how my greater experience lets me find the value in different perspectives.

He also emphasizes the difficulty of achieving a leadership orientation. My post about the attitude of management was inspired in large part by reading this book and the ideas that it evoked in me. He points out that to take a big step up in competence often involves taking a step backwards first, and if we’re too afraid of that step down, we can never advance.

I think I’ll be re-reading this book for many months. I haven’t done many of the self-assessment exercises as I was on an airplane while reading it, although I have started doing the 5-minute daily journal that he recommends. I may end up doing what a friend of a friend did with Dale Carnegie and re-read a chapter each day or week and try to apply those ideas to my life.

Even though I found this book valuable, I found it difficult going in spots because it made me question a lot of what I thought I knew. It certainly got me thinking about the larger issues associated with leadership. This is not a book for the arrogant (as my younger self was), as they will not be willing to do the critical self-assessment necessary to benefit from the lessons here. Heck, I’m still not sure I’m ready to benefit from this book. We’ll see how the next little bit plays out.

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