Becoming a Technical Leader: An Organic Problem-Solving Approach by Gerald Weinberg

Instead of leading people, as in the threat/reward model, organic leadership leads the process…Leading the process is responsive to people, giving them choices and leaving them in control.

People improve their performance not by amputating their old behaviors, but by adding new ones.

To become a problem-solving leader, you don’t need some sudden religious conversion. You merely need to examine those ends/means combinations where you lack strategies, then fill in the holes, one at a time.

Unless and until all members of a team have a common understanding of the problem, all attempts to solve the problem are just so much wasted energy.

Problem-solving leaders are not interested in doing again what has already been done well, by themselves or someone else.

Nobody is bright enough to have all the good ideas, and a constant babble of your own unconsidered ideas is an excellent way to discourage other people’s ideas.

All great chefs taste the food during preparation, and effective problem-solving leaders never compromise on quality.

Sometimes the best measurement tool is a fresh perspective on what you’re doing.

In the hands of an effective leader, though, failure is actually a release from bondage to a fruitless idea, a release that renews the idea cycle and makes the process more productive than ever.

Practice makes perfect, but when you begin to feel you’re really getting good, start looking for some conceptual breakthrough. In other words, spend some time mastering tactics, but don’t forget to look for a better strategy.

If you never let go of what you already do well, you may continue to make steady progress, but you’ll never get off the plateau.

Understanding the experiences of others expands our choices. By understanding these patterns, problem-solving leaders can make better career choices - quite the opposite of being “part of a pattern”.

That’s how the plateau stage begins to crumble - with the introduction of some foreign element.

It’s only in threat/reward models that leadership and managership are synonymous.

You may have a title like Group Leader, yet not be leading; or you may have no title at all, but be the one who makes your group start to function in new and more effective ways.

In a well-designed engine, there is no weakest link. If spark plugs are truly the weakest link, then a superior engine design eliminates the spark plugs altogether, giving us the diesel engine. Or, if you can’t think how to eliminate spark plugs, at least you make them easily interchangeable. In the same way, the best-designed working groups are those in which leadership comes from everybody, not merely the appointed leaders. Therefore, you need not wait - you should not wait - for an appointment.

Instead of simply charging out at the head of the troops, they organize the troops so that when the time comes for battle, they’ll charge off by themselves.

It is leadership by innovation, by adding new techniques to the group’s ways of getting things done.