I was thrilled to read in today’s New York Times the comments of $5B SunGard’s CEO, Cristóbal Conde. He shifted his management style several years ago after reaching the limits of the very methods that had brought him near the top.
Early on, I was very command-and-control, very top-down. I felt I was smart, and that my decisions would be better. I was young, and I was willing to work 20 hours a day. But guess what? It doesn’t scale.
I was away from home 302 nights, not including day trips. I had to fly around all over the place making all the decisions. And I would walk in, make an uninformed decision, get on the next plane, go somewhere else and repeat the process. I look back at that year; I don’t think I got anything done.
My clients have had similar experiences, as described in this post: Your greatest strength is your #1 blind spot.
Mr. Conde had reached the limits of micro-management and was awakened by an experience I have often seen.
[I had] a huge disagreement with somebody who worked for me directly, and he ended up quitting shortly thereafter. And it wasn’t that the decision that we disagreed on was so big. It was more that, to him, it just wasn’t as much fun anymore. He felt he could do more, and I was in his way. I was chasing away somebody extremely valuable, and that is when I realized I never would have put up with that myself. If you start micromanaging people, then the very best ones leave.
If the very best people leave, then the people you’ve got left actually require more micromanagement.
The entire article is worth reading for any leader. Mr. Conde has useful comments on sales, the perils of PowerPoint, hiring interviews, and much more.