Monday, September 26, 2005
Over the last 15 years as a software professional, I can count on one hand the leaders that I have worked for and that I would work for again.  There are four to be exact.
When I was at Eastman Kodak in New York, I worked for Mike Morba who was the VP of Business Development in the Digital Imaging Division.  Mike was responsible for a $30 million budget for Kodaks Picture Center product.  What made Mike a good leader?  First, he knew everything about digital imaging, not only from a software development perspective, but also from a marketing perspective.  He had keen insight into the marketplace and a hell of a vision for the product, which was way ahead of its time.  Mike also knew what motivated people.  It was quite simple really, he gave credit where credit was due.  So when his team did a good job, he made sure people knew about it, not only in his 300 person team, but everyone else in Kodak.  Mike was sincere and selfless in this respect.  He knew he was the man, and so did everyone else at Kodak, but he did not have to advertise it or take credit for what his team did.  A quality other prospective leaders should try and come to terms with, that is, if they can leave their egos behind.
Eastman Kodak was a huge company with over 40,000 employees.  At the other end of the spectrum, I worked for Shawn Abbott in a small 10 person start-up company that was more of an advanced R&D shop than a products company.  What made Shawn a good leader?  Not only the attributes mentioned above of Mike Morba, but in addition, Shawn had a vision for his company and never gave up control of his start up, even when times were tough and venture capitalists were hovering around ready to dish out cash but in return wanted control.  Shawns issue was what did these people have in the way of leadership other than cash?  Shawn stayed the course and has done very well for sticking to his vision.  I have a lot of respect for Shawn.