Chapter 2: Models of Leadership Style

(This is part 2 in a series of posts where I document my progress through reading Becoming a Technical Leader: An Organic Problem-Solving Approach by Gerald Weinberg, answering the questions at the end of each chapter)

This chapter develops a model for discussing an environment for leadership. The model has three parts: Motivation, Organization and Ideas, abbreviated MOI.

[Edit: I missed one question when I typed these up. The missing question was number 5, and what I posted as question 5 is now question 6]

1. How would you characterize yourself in MOI terms?

“What were you like five years ago?”

Currently I’d say I’m highly motivated and fairly well stocked in ideas. In the last five years, the biggest change has been in the idea department, as I’ve gathered experience, read up on new ideas and tried them out. My motivation has been fairly high all the time, and stable at that. I’ve never been very organized, ever. I’ve even tried a bunch of ways for keeping organized. Some of them even worked (for example, making a daily list of things to do). I tend to abandon them after a run of success, though, after which the inevitable decline happens.

2. How much are you willing to do to change your MOI profile?

“What specific actions do you have planned for the next five years? next year? next month? tomorrow? today?”

The previous answer highlights one of the things I know to be my, let’s say *cough* less strong aspects. I don’t really feel much of a need to change the M axis, and the I axis is covered in my constant push for learning. However, the O axis clearly needs work.

I’m willing to give almost any sane method a try. It doesn’t make sense to try fixing this problem on the very long term, but evidently the short term isn’t right either. Perhaps a month of practice coupled with weekly notes on how well things worked would be a good start.

3. Can you think of specific events that triggered an agreeable change in your MOI profile?

“Do these events have anything in common? What can you do to increase the frequency of such events?”

The last clear milestone I can think of was when I began to have a kind of focus in learning. It was approximately five years ago, when I realized I couldn’t expect my co-workers or bosses to tell me how things should be done. The previous one was triggered by uncertainty of my own proficiency at work. The events are almost polar opposites, but both drove my motivation which in turn helped me stock up on ideas.

The best way to drive this sort of change is likely actively going outside my comfort zone.

4. Do you have a different MOI profile at work than you have in your life outside of work?

“What does this tell you about yourself?”

I think the differences are negligible. I very much identify with my professional persona, for better and for worse, which is probably the main cause for the similarity. One interesting difference is that outside work, I’m more comfortable taking a leadership position and being a catalyst, possibly due to the less severe responsibilities involved.

5. Is your current leadership style contributing to your happiness?

“to the happiness of the people around you? to making the world a better place for everyone?”

Outside work, yes. At work, a little less, maybe. I don’t think I have a significant contribution in making the world a better place, but just like you can die from a thousand paper cuts, a thousand tiny little things that are better make up for one bigger thing. In that sense, yes.

6. At the moment, does your principal motivation for change come from promise of reward of fear of punishment?

“Is this the best mode for you? If not, what can you do to get more of the other kind? How about some other kind of motivation entirely, such as an increased sense of self-worth?”

I could have chosen to stay where I am now, as I am now, and gain rewards for that. On the other hand, trying to step outside the bounds of what I usually do is, at least in my mind, more risk-prone, and as such, more likely to result in ‘punishment’. Therefore I’d say neither of the two apply. Instead, an increased sense of self-worth is a fitting description for my motivation for change in general, not just this particular exercise in changing.


Previously: Chapter 1: What is Leadership, anyway? Next up: Chapter 3: A Problem-Solving Style

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