Leading Geeks: How to Manage and Lead the People Who Deliver Technology / Edition 1 available in Hardcover
Winner of the 2003 Financial Times Germany/getAbstract Business & Finance Book Award
Leading Geeks challenges the conventional wisdom that leadership methods are universal and gives executives and managers the understanding they need to manage and lead the technologists on whom they have become so dependent. This much-needed book? written in nontechnical language by Paul Glen, a highly acclaimed management consultant? gives clear directions on how to effectively lead these brilliant yet notoriously resistant-to-being-managed knowledge workers. Glen not only provides proven management strategies but also background on why traditional approaches often don't work with geeks. Leading Geeks describes the beliefs and behavior of geeks, their group dynamics, and the unique nature of technical work. It also offers a unique twelve-part model that explains how knowledge workers deliver value to an organization.
About the Author
Paul Glen is a management consultant who helps clients build effective technology organizations. For more than fifteen years he has advised clients in the United States, Europe, and Asia. He has also served as an adjunct faculty member in the MBA programs at the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business and Loyola Marymount University. Prior to founding C2 Consulting, he was western regional manager for SEI Information Technology, a national IT consultancy. And, yes, he is a geek.
Table of Contents
Editor's Note, Warren Bennis. Foreword, David H. Maister. Introduction. Acknowledgments. Overview: The Challenge of Geeks. 1. Geeks, Leadership, and Geek Leadership. Part One: The Context of Geek Leadership. 2. The Essential Geek. 3. Groups of Geeks. 4. The Nature of Geekwork. 5. Performing Geekwork. Part Two: The Content of Geek Leadership. 6. Nurturing Motivation. 7. Providing Internal Facilitation. 8. Furnishing External Representation. 9. Managing Ambiguity. 10. Selecting and Organizing Geekwork. 11. Uniting Geeks and Geekwork. Conclusion: Harmonizing Context and Content. 12. How Geek Leaders Lead. Appendix: Models and Lists. Notes. References. The Author. Index.
What People are Saying About This
This book is a must-read for anyone who has to deal with the
techno-geeks of today's society. Paul has encapsulated the essence of
managing these folks effectively without losing his sense of humor and
Author of The Overnight Consultant, The Consultant's Survival Guide, Better Software Project Management, and co-author of Software Project Management: : Step by Step
I recognize the Geeks Mr. Glen describes from my time at Apple Computer
working with the team that invented the Macintosh. If I'd had this book
in 1981, there's no doubt that I could have better served the Human
Resources needs of that team.
In this provocative book, Paul Glen provides excellent advice for
managing "Geeks" -- the computer nerds and other high-tech gurus of the
21st century. But his insights apply equally well to the challenge of
leading any group of specialists for whom esoteric knowledge is more
important than power, and expertise more determinative of social
dominance than bureaucratic hierarchy, including actors, athletes,
university faculty, musicians, doctors and bond traders.
President University of Southern California
We ought to stop complaining about technical wizards and learn how to
utilize their considerable talents. Paul Glen helps us to do that
better than I ever dreamed possible.
Author of , The Ultimate Consultant Series
Paul Glen masterfully and humorously teaches us how to create
followership in this notoriously inscrutable but essential population.
Ignore his rock-solid advice at your own peril.
author of Clients for Life and Making Rain
Leading Geeks provides a unique and pragmatic perspective of the issues
faced by technologists as they create value within an organization. The
ideas here will help any technical business.
Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Kinko's
With an uncanny perception, Leading Geeks provides rare insight into
managing often confusing and complex IT professionals. Whether you have
minimal or extensive experience managing technologists, you will be
inspired by this book.
Director of Information Technology San Diego City Schools
Highly talented technical people are a separate breed and managing them is a delicate art. Paul Glen's new book Leading Geeks is essential reading for any manager facing the difficult challenge of leading, motivating, and rewarding technical contributors. Paul has done the improbable - he's taken his experience and knowledge of technical leadership and produced a funny, engaging, and valuable work that is a treasure trove of wisdom for technical managers.
This book is a must read for all who struggle with leading the
technical workforce. I'm going to be assigning it to all my students.
Head of Strategy and Organizations Studies Keck Graduate Institute for Applied Life Sciences
Managing technology talent is more critical today than ever before.
This book brings an insightful and delightful perspective.
Chairman of Consulting Perot Systems Corporation
Paul Glen has put a lot of thought into the particular (and at times
peculiar) needs of the technical computer staff; the geeks. For those
who must lead technical personnel, this book offers some invaluable
aha's regarding what makes the tick and how to capitalize on their
idiosyncrasies to achieve outstanding performance. And this book
doesn't stop there. Even if you're a seasoned Technical Manager, you
can't get through this book without picking up a few tips to make your
job easier and your group more effective.
Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer Car Karcher Enterprises
This book is a great read, easily understood and logically organized.
It will definitely help leaders gain the skills needed to be successful
in today's technologically dependent organizations.
Rear Admiral, United States Navy (retired)
"Managing technology talent is more critical today than ever before. This book brings an insightful and delightful perspective." — James Champy, chairman of consulting, Perot Systems Corporation
"In this provocative book, Paul Glen provides excellent advice for managing 'geeks' the computer nerds and other high-tech gurus of the 21st century. But his insights apply equally well to the challenge of leading any group of specialists for whom esoteric knowledge is more important than power, and expertise more determinative of social dominance than bureaucratic hierarchy, including actors, athletes, university faculty, musicians, doctors, and bond traders." — Steven Sample, president, University of Southern California
"With an uncanny perception, Leading Geeks provides rare insight into managing often confusing and complex IT professionals. Whether you have minimal or extensive experience managing technologists, you will be inspired by this book." — Craig McLeod, director of information technology, San Diego City Schools
"Highly talented technical people are a separate breed, and managing them is a delicate art. Paul Glen's new book, Leading Geeks, is essential reading for any manager facing the difficult challenge of leading, motivating, and rewarding technical contributors. Paul has done the improbable he's taken his experience and knowledge of technical leadership and produced a funny, engaging, and valuable work that is a treasure trove of wisdom for technical managers." — Rick Freedman, author, The IT Consultant
"We ought to stop complaining about technical wizards and learn how to utilize their considerable talents. Paul Glen helps us to do that better than I ever dreamed possible." — Alan Weiss, author, The Ultimate Consultant Series
"I identify with geeks and, therefore, recommend this book not only for those who manage, work, and live with geeks, but also for geeks. It helps us to get to know ourselves better. Read it once for fun and once for meaning, then keep it and expect to refer back to it." — Dolph Santello, principal consultant, Microsoft Corporation
Although ostensibly about technologists, Leading Geeks provides broader
insights into the nature and management of knowledge workers in general.
In fact, this book would be very valuable for university managers who
are trying to "lead" their faculty knowledge workers!
Professor, Institute of Psychology, Illinois Institute of Technology
Using gentle humor and keen intellect, Paul Glen pries the covers off
an often mysterious group of key contributors. Wondering what makes
geeks tick, and how to get them ticking in sync with the rest of the
business? This book will show you how.
President, Ageos Enterprises
Leading Geeks nails the complex Geek psyche and offers pragmatic advice
and insight for those who wish to harness the power of these most
valuable employees. This book is required reading for anyone in my
company that works with Geeks.
President Network Insight
What's So Special About Geeks?
Long before the hype started about the Internet, information technology had already changed everything. From the mighty mainframes that transformed business accounting and operations to the humble personal computer that revolutionized office work, technology has transformed how we labor and live in the industrialized world.
But where does all this technology come from? Who designs, builds, tests, deploys, and supports it all? The answer is geeks. Hidden armies of geeks have become the indispensable linchpin of the modern economy. Yet few managers pay much attention to them, and even fewer understand them.
Those that have tried to manage geeks usually find them difficult to control, hard to fathom, and resistant to authority. Technical teams are among the most difficult groups to manage, since geeks just can't be managed in the same ways as other employees.
One of the key reasons for this is that geeks are different from other people. If you want to lead geeks, you've got to start out by understanding them, understanding what makes them different from other employees. I know that it's considered rude to stereotype, but I'm a geek, and believe that it's important to recognize that there are patterns of beliefs, behaviors, and attitudes that are common among those of us who are drawn to technical work. Here are just a few of them:
Geeks are more loyal to their technology than to their company or leader. The key to this is right there in the phrase "technical people." Geeks are captivated by technique and are fascinated by technology. Generally, they find how something works much more interesting that what it does.
Passion for Reason. Geeks are deeply committed to the idea that things should always be rational rather than emotional. That's probably why Star Trek's Mr. Spock is such a popular character among geeks. The irony is that their commitment to reason is so deep, that it is really an emotional commitment…which is inherently irrational.
Independence and Rebellion. The cowboy mythos of the American West is alive and well in the hearts of technologists. Their approach to work and life on the digital frontier is reminiscent of the longings for freedom and independence of the cowboy legends.
Geeks Choose Machines. If given the choice, which would you prefer? Going to a cocktail party with dozens of interesting people you don't know or a quiet evening at home with your computer? For most geeks, it would be no contest. An evening with the computer would be much more interesting than small talk with strangers.
Geeks Love Puzzles. Not everyone enjoys brain benders, but geeks find them irresistible. Whether it's crosswords, mysteries, or the dreaded mathematics word problem, the engagement that comes with a tough question is exciting.
Swift and Merciless Judgment. Geeks tend to judge people rather quickly. You're either useless or a genius; there's very little room in between. If you are judged useless, geeks will isolate themselves and their work from you. Also, once judged, it can be quite difficult to change their impression of you.
The key to leading geeks and, indeed, to leading anyone, lies first in trying to understand those whom you would lead. Too often, leadership books focus exclusively on the attitudes, characteristics, behaviors, ethics, or experiences of leaders, as if the nature of followers were irrelevant. Don't believe it. If you want to be successful as a leader, start out by learning about your followers and only then worry about yourself. Paul Glen