What is it that we look for in leaders? I am not just talking about the IT industry in particular. Leadership qualities are the same across the floor. So what is it that stands out in leaders?
Is it their charisma, the way they speak and act or is it their decision making skill? There are a few basic skills that make up a leader. But today, I bring up the comparison of Google and Wikipedia with respect to leadership qualities.
Google and Wiki that You are Aware of Already!
Google is a program that indexes content across the web. It knows exactly where the relevant content lies and it can pull it out of its hat in a matter of micro seconds.
Wikipedia on the other hand is the all knowing content. You name a topic and it is very likely that Wikipedia knows of it.
Where in the World does Leadership relate to Google and Wiki
Tying up with what I started with leadership and the comparison between Google and Wikipedia, do you think that good leaders are more like Google or are they like Wikipedia?
The point of introspection is this – would it make a leader look good or be good if he knows who to turn to or where to turn towards at the time of need?
Or, is the leader good because he knows it all. If you want to bounce off a problem you face in AWS, hey your leader can help. You want to talk about vlookup in Excel, your leader is there for you.
Is this the leader you want? Do you prefer a leader with skillsets of knowing exactly where to look or a leader who can help out firsthand.
Take a minute to think this through.
Here’s my opinion on this talking point.
Opinion on a Leader
A leader is good because he knows who to seek. Not only does he know where to seek, he also knows what questions to ask to get the answer that’s pertinent.
This is much like the keywords that we use during Google search, and the whole lot of suggestions as we type is analogous to asking the right question. This has happened to me a number of times, knowingly or unknowingly. I start to type the nature of my query without knowing what keywords to put in, and as I start typing, the suggestions start to appear and more often than not, one of the suggestions is exactly what I am looking for in terms of the right problem statement or you can the right keywords to use.
If we have a leader who is like Wikipedia and all knowing, it is good. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that it is possible that a leader knows it all.
If yes, then does he need a team? Who does he lead? Would he not become an extremely efficient individual contributor?
Who is a Good Leader?
In reality, a leader is not meant to be a source of knowledge. Nobody looks up to a leader to be a subject matter expert but rather as somebody who can guide.
So leaders like Wikipedia in my opinion are dangerous. When I say leader like Wikipedia, I am referring to a leader who thinks he knows everything, a leader who thinks of himself as a subject matter expert in multiple fields. People reporting to him might start seeing a dictatorial face, and very soon things will start moving south.
Think about the political leadership in your country. Do they have advisors in every field? Heck yes! Do the leaders follow everything that their advisors say? I hope not because knowledge is one thing and taking a decision based on the information is something else.
You want a leader to consume the knowledge from whatever source it comes from, and make a rational decision based on various factors like the circumstance, finances, dependencies among others.
Going back to Google, to help with the decision making, Google has Google Page Ranks which lets users know the authority of certain pages based on its popularity and other factors.
This is an indicator that helps users in the decision making process on which pages to refer to.
To summarize, a leader must be in a position to take counsel of subject matter experts. He must know who to reach out to under different circumstances.
Based on the knowledge acquired, a good leader takes an informed decision rather than just not sticking to the script of the advisors.
So, just a warning about the Google search. Do not follow blindly what a particular top ranking site suggests. Cross reference it with other articles across the web. Once you are able to cross reference and confirm it, then you know that the data is good.
A leader too must find a way to verify the knowledge not just trust the information blindly.