Too Many Bullets and Not Enough Zen

I posted here Monday on Kermit Pattison’s interview with Randy Komisar. That was about the writing, which I found intriguing. I can’t resist commenting as well on what Randy Komisar says there.  He’s now a partner in prestigious VC firm Kleiner Perkins, and has been a co-founder, CEO, or founding director of several major successes including Apple’s Claris, Tivo, and LucasArts. carrots and sticksAnd what he says there is brilliant.

On classic mistakes of manager-wannabe-leaders:

A key point here is that leaders aren’t necessarily managers, and vice-versa. Randy says assuming a good manager is a good leader is “a classic mistake.” Here’s more:

Management is more operationally focused. It’s more of a supervisory role of setting priorities, allocating resources, and directing the execution. Leadership is more forward thinking, more about enabling the organization, empowering individuals, developing the right people, thinking strategically about opportunities, and driving alignment.

On needing the right kind of leadership at the right time:

The conversation there goes through how CEOs are like breeds of dogs, and I’ll leave you to click to the original to get Randy’s description of the retriever, the bloodhound, the husky, and the St. Bernard. The important lesson there, which I completely believe, is:

There are different talents in the creation of businesses and running of businesses that need to be taken into consideration.

And Randy fills that idea in with practical examples:

A mistake often made in the venture investment business is rushing to bring in a big CEO into what is still a small venture. The mismatch of skills is severe. The big CEO needs resources, needs a strong sense of direction and momentum, and is not very effective day-to-day with a bunch of people putting bits and bytes together. The other mismatch that’s harder to foresee is the small company with momentum. You say, great, let’s bring in the guy who can grow it to $100 million and take it public. The problem is that you may face yet another significant right or left hand turn in your business which that CEO may be completely unqualified to do.

Too Many Bullets and Not Enough Zen

This is my second post on that phrase now — bullets and zen — and I’m still loving it. Kermit asks Randy who’s being particularly thoughtful about leadership lately. I love his answer (warning: this is another Zen reference, even after my not Zen post last week. Discretion is advised.)

I’ve given up on the guru model and think more in the Zen model: things will change and that’s okay. What we need is a set of constant provocations. What I like to read are those things that really challenge my assumptions, authors who are willing to think differently, no matter whether I agree with them or not, because they at least broaden my own thinking. What I don’t like reading is the pablum–the 10 habits of great leaders or whatever. Those are constraining and not very effective for the average person.

I agree. Well said.


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