I just wanted to give kudos to Eric Lundquist for his article, Wanted: More Bill Gateses. Eric discusses what it takes for a leader. I love how it starts, too…
“If Bill Gates showed up at the Microsoft employment office today, would he get a job? I don’t think so. After all, he dropped out of college after three years, doesn’t hold a technical degree, and would probably flunk those tests where you try to find out if the prospective employee works well with others.”
I found this to be amusing. In fact, I don’t know that Bill would have a problem getting a job, but that’s assuming he’d make it past the first level of the screening process. Having been thru Microsoft’s rigorous hiring process, I can say that there are a lot of factors that come into play and they do a good job of finding out who you are and what you’re about. I’m assuming the different divisions use vastly different hiring practices, but the consulting arm is quite thorough – a full days worth of interviews with half a dozen or more people help ensure that.
Besides all that, I just had to comment on Eric’s points of interest: (1) hire the qualified over the credentialed; (2) hire those who are willing to get their hands dirty; and, (3) don’t hire team players when you really want team leaders. First, I have to say that I hate the concept of degrees and certifications. Those things are for good test takers, which I am not. Don’t get me wrong, I get by and do a pretty good job -- I did graduate Summa Cum Laude -- but that’s not the point. The point is that no matter what grade you get, whether you complete a degree program, or even consider obtaining certifications has nothing to do with your technical merit. I always have and always will hate that about this career field. Don’t get me wrong, tho, I completely understand why it’s there, which is why I have and will focus on obtaining higher degrees and certifications. But, I’ll be the first to say that no matter how many pieces of paper you may have collected over the years, none of that matters when you step up to the whiteboard and piece a real life system together. In a lot of cases, not even experience will give you what you need. You need agility, innovation, and initiative, which touches on Eric’s second point. His last point regarding team players vs leaders is an interesting one. I can’t think of how many times I’ve heard the “too many chiefs and not enough Indians” comment. This is especially true when it comes to the tech arena. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. For instance, it’s simply not feasible to run a project with two top-level architects. A senior architect mixed with one or more junior architects might work, but there are no promises. It’s inevitable that head-butting will ensue at sometime. The smart ones are always the more difficult ones to work with. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve butted heads with people I’ve worked with in the past -- and these are people who I truly value, technically and personally. Despite the aggravations we may have, I’d welcome them into any team/project I work on based on their technical prowess… as long as they know who’s boss, that is *smirk*