Discussion on: From Coding To Management To Leadership

twbartel profile image
Tom Bartel

Great post, Lorenzo. Thanks for your work. I agree with almost everything. I have one comment and one question:

My comment: You conflate management and leadership, like leadership is somehow the progression path of the manager. This is actually quite common (a lot of others do it), but I don't think it's accurate. I think leadership and management are very different things, and few people excel at both.

Personally, I like the definitions by Marcus Buckingham: A manager is a coach who brings out the best in her people. Her focus is on each individual. A leader is a visionary who rallies people around her idea of the future - be this the future of a product, or a company. Her focus is towards the outside, and towards the future.

Ultimately, it is a matter of how you define leadership, so it's always a bit random. However, I find the definition you have given a bit unsatisfying. If a manager becomes better and better at his job, this does not necessarily mean that we need a new name/title for him: "Now you are not a manager any more, but you are a leader!"

After all: When a developer progresses, and accomplishes what you describe above ("knowing how to write the algorithms, solve problems, structure your code and design systems"), do you invent a new title for him, as well? "Now you are not a developer any more, but you are a ... senior developer? Ninja?"

That was my comment.

My question: You ask the aspiring manager to decide how they would measure their performance. I'm curious: How would you, or do you, measure it?

lpasqualis profile image
Lorenzo Pasqualis Author

Thank you for your very thoughtful comment.
There is much that could be discussed about the difference between management and leadership and it does come down to definitions, as you said. I used to see it the way you define it, but I changed my view a few years ago. I love the way Max Depree talks about it in his book “Leadership is an art”. He says “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.”

In the long term, I measure my performance by measuring the impact of my efforts. The impact is the delta between what happened because of me vs. what would have happened if I was not there.
In the short term (daily) I measure it by asking myself if I made a difference to people and/or the organization, that day.

twbartel profile image
Tom Bartel

Putting "Leadership is an art" on my reading list, thanks :-)

About measuring your impact, or productivity, as a manager: I wrote Recalibrate Your Productivity Sensors some time ago, maybe you find it helpful. It talks about how, as a manager, most of the metrics of productivity you had as a developer just go away, and you have to find new ones. I think it arrives at a similar conclusion as you do: Make a difference to people and the organization. Unblock, teach, listen, encourage, give feedback, bounce ideas back and forth, etc.