Competencies of a Good Leader

April 3rd, 2010 No comments

A recent friend and co-worker made a tough decision to leave the project and take on a leadership role at a startup.  He was very strong technically and a good leader – a rare combination.  I thought about the challenges he’ll be facing as he starts to build his new team from scratch and it reminded me of when I had to do the same.

I keep this list in my notebook as a reminder to me of what I try to aspire to.

Best of luck Jim!


  • Encourages a participative approach to work, fostering cooperation, pride, dialogue and trust.
  • Creates strong spirit and morale.
  • Let’s people finish and be responsible for their work.
  • Defines success in terms of the whole team and creates a feeling of belonging among team members.
  • Works well with others to achieve team goals.
  • Consistently places team priorities above personal priorities.

Resource Usage

  • Consistently completes all assigned projects within budget and gains approval if project will exceed budget.
  • Allocates resources in the most productive and efficient way possible.
  • Minimizes rework.

Managing People

  • Provides ongoing guidance and positive reinforcement to improve performance.
  • Provides challenging tasks and assignments and will work with people who need improvement.
  • Consistently evaluates, provides feedback and develops employees to their next level of performance.
  • Shares and/or delegates power and authority with staff.
  • Shares rewards with staff.
  • Provides corrective and/or progressive disciplinary actions to modify/improve inappropriate behavior or performance.
  • Ensures staff are properly selected, used, appraised and developed, and treated fairly.
  • Effective at managing a diverse workforce.


  • Presents ideas and information both verbally and in writing in a clear, concise manner.
  • Shares the information people need to know to be successful.
  • Informs others on a timely basis.
  • Consistently shows a great deal of understanding, courtesy, tact, empathy, and concern when addressing others.
  • Demonstrates very effective listening, questioning and interpersonal skills.
  • Follows direction.


  • Maintains an excellent record of punctuality and plans absences in advance.
  • Keeps promises and commitments.
  • Consistently completes projects accurately and on time and is very thorough when performing work and is conscientious about attending to details.


  • Inspires, motivates, guides others toward goals.
  • Coaches, mentors and challenges staff and adapts leadership style to various situations.
  • Consistently demonstrates decisiveness in day-to-day actions.
  • Takes unpopular positions when necessary.
  • Faces adversity head on.

Strategic Planning

  • Actively and effectively contributes on a consistent basis to drive technology strategy and indirectly drive overall corporate strategy.
  • Has broad knowledge and perspective on the strategic issues facing the company.
  • Can anticipate future consequences and trends accurately and creates improvement strategies and plans.
  • Consistently makes sound, well-informed decisions.
  • Clearly understands the impact and implications of decisions.

Operations Planning

  • Anticipates and adjusts for potential problems or opportunities.
  • Implements or utilizes strategic plans on a day-to-day basis.
  • Organizes work, sets priorities, determines resource requirements.
  • Determines short- or long-term goals and strategies to achieve them.
  • Coordinates with other parts of the company.
  • Monitors progress and evaluates outcomes.


  • Ability to recognize which tasks are more important at each moment and to distinguish between urgency and importance.
  • Allocates attention, energy and time effectively to avoid getting into crisis or trouble.
  • Consistently avoids last minute efforts and scrambling – works smarter not harder.
Categories: Technology, Work Tags:

Satisfaction at Work

December 13th, 2009 No comments

I just finished reading an article about How Adults Achieve Happiness on Businessweek’s site.  It’s based on a study done by Marshall and Kelly Goldsmith to determine what gives short-term satisfaction (happiness) and long-term benefit (meaning)—both at work and away from it.

One of the questions rating satisfaction level at work hit home.  It turns out that satisfaction at work depends on two things occuring in conjunction:

  1. Working on challenging and stimulating tasks
  2. Working on tasks that had a meaningful purpose

One without the other just doesn’t satisfy.  As I look back on past work that was the most satisfying for me, I completely agree.  Challenging and stimulating work that I performed that had fictitious or constantly shifting objectives left a lot to be desired.  Both are needed in order to convey accomplishment.

So what can companies and employees do to increase satisfaction at work?  Take a look at the article to finds out, but here are a few recommendations to increase happiness and meaning drawn from the survey results:

  • Reduce TV watching. It’s stimulating but doesn’t increase overall satisfaction with life—at work or home.
  • Cut back on surfing the Web for non-professional reasons. It’s negatively correlated with the experience of both happiness and meaning.
  • Do as few chores as you can (whatever that word means to you).
  • Spend time exercising and with people you love (respondents who did this had more satisfaction with life at work and at home).
  • Feeling challenged is linked to greater satisfaction, so challenge yourself.

I like the “stay away from chores” suggestion and will try to be conscious about the others too.

Categories: Work Tags: